Google memories (1/x)
y'all going to laugh, but I really believed it. I drank the kool-aid. this was the mid-00s, a tech company with a motto "don't be evil" still felt daring rather than cringe – for an alienated techie like past me, at least; my politically aware friends tried to warn me; but I didn't realise that Google leveraged its fine-tuned advertising machinery also for recruiting, and I swallowed the whole thing.
Google memories (2/x)
even back then, there were all these little dissonances. I remember my future boss asking me why I wanted to work there, and I said I respected the Ten Principles of the company. "what Ten Principles?" during all my time there, I found I was the only one gullible enough to have read those mission statement pages.
but hey, at least we were not Microsoft. we respected open standards, kind of. we used open source. mostly. except for key products like Search and Mail, but 🤷♀️
Google memories (3/x)
I aced the recruiting tests. How could I not? They were traps built for minds like mine. but I didn't understand how they were designed to make me feel proud, special.
and lucky. the Best Place to Work was shiny and different. the offices were called "campi". we got a lil welcome bonus to buy toys for your desk (I got a Kirby). there was a videogame room with Guitar Hero. the colourful rubbery floors felt like the furthest thing from your average office cubicle hell.
Google memories (4/x)
but if you're working-class, something in the atmosphere nagged at you. my (then) wife felt it, too. the way everybody acted so high and showy, the expensive barbecue outings, the invisibility of the cleaning ladies, the second-class status of "contractors, temps, and part-timers". nobody gave a second thought to the fact that our weekly TGIF parties meant shorter Fridays for us but longer Fridays to the women doing our dishes.
Google memories (5/x)
we had these fancy water purifiers, one per floor. they were not owned by the company, but rented. I looked it up, and the cost per month was more than we paid an avg employee (me). I told my boss we could use cheap, scientifically proven Brazilian ceramic filters, and hire cleaning personell as actual staff with the money. my boss looked at me like I was insane. I realised for all the talk, we had no input on company ethics.
Google memories (6/x)
I had trouble remembering all the internal acronyms and codenames. there was a dictionary page on the intranet, and I made an IRC bot for it. I thought I'd get praise for my initiative; but I was scolded for exposing internal codes (like project Chrome, then a secret) to temps and other second-class ppl. I pointed out this info was already available from the dictionary site. they said omg we must fix that.
this is the story of how I purged the dictionary of all usefulness.
Google memories (7/x)
my job at Google was to fix bugs in the homegrown account system. it was mind-numbingly boring. I told my boss I'd rather work in a different project. "No", he said.
remember we were supposed to have 20% of free time, but I had so many attributions forced on me, that I had to work overtime just to meet them. an internal survey (Googlegeist) showed that 90% of employees didn't make use of the 20% time.
Google memories (8/x)
"Is 20% time a myth?", I titled an intranet blog post. I can't choose what to work in, I wrote; I cited the survey; "this is not what the recruiters promised". I got a bunch of emails praising me for my courage. But I wasn't brave, I was naïve.
my boss called me to a little room in Phoenix and berated me for "stabbing him in the back". doesn't Google support Radical Transparency, I objected. he said, and I quote,
Google memories (9/x)
"Radical Transparency doesn't mean you can say critical things".
I learned he was chastised by his _own_ boss. he had an Unhappy Employee. we're the Best Place To Work. Unhappiness is not supposed to exist.
I started paying attention. A person from Project Android posted a confession about being disappointed with the directions of the project, open-sourceness-wise. It was personal, heartfelt; they felt betrayed.
Google memories (10/x)
one week later they posted a retraction. Project Android is amazing actually, this is so exciting, sorry about my rant, I was going through some personal stuff.
Friends told me to not criticise anything over email, as it can and will be read, and not use my phone lines.
I started feeling like in the RPG Paranoia: Being unhappy suggests the Computer is flawed, therefore unhappiness is treason. Citizens are monitored, and traitors will be punished. Are you happy, citizen?
Google memories (11/x)
after that I was marked as a problem employee, and my boss put me on performance review. one of his criticisms was that my intranet profile was too personal. it said I was bisexual and poli. that was it. that's the "too personal".
Google was so progressive! they loved my dyed hair for PR photos. and hey we had the Gayglers and all.
(the only thing I got from being in Gayglers was a creepy call from ads wanting to mine me for keywords for the Brazilian LGBT community.)
Google memories (12/x)
did I mention we were underpaid? All Brazilian employees dreamed of a relocation and a salary not below market avg. I wanted Japan. boss told me it was impossible without fluent Japanese. friends arranged a late-night phone call (from a cleaning closet!) with an offshore mate who knew somebody from a Japanese "campus" and said that was bullshit, they'd be happy to have me.
I was fired about two weeks later, nominally due to the 2008 crash, along with other personnel cuts.
Google memories (13/x)
In one of my last TGIF parties I witnessed a couple execs chatting happily about how they managed to fire 2/3 of temps/part-timers/contractors in Argentina and hey, the office is doing fine. They were laughing about it. Loudly. They didn't care enough to even fake concern.
This was the first time I learned that capitalists are not nuanced villains like in Miyazaki movies. They're sad caricatures, like the villains Captain Planet.
@elilla that's on hell of a story, but I respect the transparency. I'll admit blatantly that it was hard for me to see things going downhill from the outside looking in. If you can call it "going downhill"...
My trust in Google was lost years ago, but that doesn't stop the company from going on, unfortunately. I'm not really sure what can be done about it sometimes. :/
@elilla Thanks so much, reading you was very educational. It's worse than I thought.
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