“Our product sucks, but you should use it, because…”

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This post is long. There is a summary at the end.


“Our product sucks, but you should use it, because…”

That’s a bad way to start one’s pitch for one’s product. I take such a pitch as an insult. Sometimes the insult is mild–almost funny. At other times, it’s infuriating.


The first area that comes to mind, when it comes to mild and somewhat humorous insult, is anything related to creativity. When a writer starts with “My book sucks” while trying to get me or anybody else to read their book, I will not read their book. Same with music. If they start with “Hey, this song of mine isn’t a good song, but…” then no, I will not listen to their song.

Why would I? It’s an insult.

Not the part where they created a thing that they describe as sucky. Surely, they didn’t want to do so; perhaps it is out of control that one creates sucky things. That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t get to create. Create all the sucky things you want or don’t want! Creativity is definitely something out of control, at least partially. If it’s fully in control, probably it’s not creativity. Also, we’re creating all the time anyway. Who isn’t creating? Besides, the thing may actually be “good”–meaning, a person’s description of suckiness doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with actual suckiness. Plus, suckiness is a subjective concept in art. There are various tastes and all that.

Creating sucky things isn’t an insult. What is insulting is selling the thing that one believes to be sucky.

If I like the thing that they described as sucky, what does that mean? According to them, it would mean that I have a sucky taste. So, darn. Now I’m not sure if I should tell the artist that I liked their work. Will they be offended if I tell them that their sucky work didn’t suck, because the compliment comes from me, who has such a sucky taste? They’re the artist. They said it sucks. I hope they aren’t offended I enjoyed their work.

If I don’t like the thing they described as sucky, it would almost be a relief, because I agree with the artist’s judgment–only, now I’m the human who was foolish enough to consume the work of that artist, when the artist clearly told me that it sucks. So, like, can I trust my taste? Should I… should I like the thing that sucks? Should I dislike it for sucking? What? Why? Who? Huh?

The reason why, in the field of art, the selling can be insulting but only mildly so while being amusing, is that whatever thing that the artist created has to do with their “I.” Whatever they define as “I” is probably overflowing in that “sucky” art of theirs, so, if they are insecure with their “I,” then it is natural that they would perceive, describe, and then advertise their art as sucky. So it’s amusing and mildly insulting, but also, what can they do? Surely they don’t want to be insecure. It’s also possible that their describing their art as sucky has to do with their culture. Some cultures think “Hey, what I did sucks, but you should consume it anyway” is a form of humility.

Basically, with artists, the insult is there, but most of the insult is so self-directed, toward the artist. Thus, I as the person being told to consume sucky things can be only insulted to a limited degree. It’s funny.


Then there are things like software and other function-serving services.

Like, damn. Browsers.

Like, Firefox.

Yes, this was what I was building up to. Hehehe.

I deleted Firefox from my computer just now. I am sick of them saying “Hey, our product sucks, but you should use it, because…”

The thing that comes after the “because” varies depending on what’s convenient for them. But the general idea is that “we are the ‘good’ guys, so you should suck it up that you live in a world where you must use our sucky product if you also want to be one of the good guys.”

No. You are not the good guys. Your product sucks (slow and bulky). You know it. And you sell it “proudly.” (And by “sell,” here, I mean this definition in Oxford Languages: “persuade someone of the merits of.”)

A redditer somewhere somewhen put it eloquently. This isn’t a direct quote, but the general idea was, I refuse to keep being gaslit by Firefox into using their browser.

I think I have never been gaslit in my life, except by companies like Firefox. And the word “gaslight” is funny because it sounds like Firefox and other companies do the gaslighting, but actually, no, what happened was that I gaslit myself. That is the only way gaslighting can happen. This isn’t “blaming the victim.” It is putting power in the “victim’s” hands. It was me who let Firefox and similar companies gaslight me by gaslighting myself–as if I should feel sorry toward them for my wanting to create things with the focus on me, instead of them.

I actually felt obliged to “help” these sucky companies. And oh, there are plenty. Over the years, I have tried various products that claim to be “good” in the moralistic sense while “proudly” owning up to how much they suck in terms of the actual products. The companies that create such sucky products conveniently frame Apple Amazon Google etc as “the bad guys,” as if by being not-Apple and not-Amazon and not-Google, they automatically become “the good guys.”

But that’s not the case. In fact, I would argue that in many areas, Apple, Amazon, and Google are the good guys for not telling me that their product sucks while selling their product to me.

Do the big companies suck sometimes? Of course! Big time!

Is it sometimes bad that they don’t admit they suck? Sure!

But is that as insulting as when someone tells me to consume their sucky product? No!

More importantly, most of the products that I used because of this self-gaslighting actually did not solve the problems that they accused in the big companies. Most notably, how data is handled. The sucky product creators often say that they don’t do anything with user data. Somehow I gaslit myself into believing that this makes them good. But what I have actually experienced (minus the gaslighting interpretations) is that the only reason the sucky product creators don’t do anything with user data is because they can’t. They don’t know how to. They don’t have the bandwidth to. Often, what they think of as “not doing anything with user data” just means that they don’t serve advertising or that they don’t sell data to advertisers. Worse: they don’t know which user data they have or don’t have.

  • I have used a product where, months after I’ve “deleted” my account, the account is still visible. The ID is still taken by that “deleted” account. The profile is there and searchable with profile picture and all! But now, because I “deleted” my account, I cannot log in to figure out why this is so.
  • I have used a product, the developers of which passive-aggressively accused users for not crediting them. For fuck’s sake, if you want credit, STATE CLEARLY THAT CREDITING IS REQUIRED, OR ELSE THERE WILL BE LEGAL ACTION. Don’t say “Hey, it would be so nice if you would credit us, because we know our product isn’t super polished yet” and then, within the user community, go on to say “Hey, we noticed that some of you guys weren’t crediting us, which is really not nice. It really demotivates us. It’s so sad. Life is so unfair…” Nice? Nice? NICE?! Telling people exactly what you want them to do is nice. Besides, treating the user community like some early-2000’s-high-school-cliques system is surely not “doing nothing with the user data.” Also, if you need motivation to develop, don’t develop. This applies to most things in life. If you need motivation to write, don’t write.
  • Hell, I have even used a product where, through my dashboard, I could see the help chat conversation of the company with another customer. I’m saying, on my dashboard, when I clicked on the help chat button, I could see the conversation between the company with another customer. I could see the customer’s details. I could see their email address, their website address, and other information they divulged in order to get “help” from that company. And, btw, this was a VC-funded company. They had money to pay for a help chat service, which they did. And they still sucked this badly. Meaning, both this VC-funded company and the company that provides the help chat service didn’t do their job!

These companies have “help” features. They have “forums.” They have Twitter accounts of the people who developed the products. (Frequently, with the implication that, because these people are “individuals,” they are good and gooder than faceless Big Tech.) But conveniently, these sucky product creators are too good to handle the actual product side. They are too busy talking about how Big Tech sucks so badly.


Imagine this were to happen in art. Imagine a musician’s primary sales pitch being, “Hey! My music sucks, but look at that other musician over there! They suck more than me, so you should listen to my sucky music instead, for sucking less!” Or, a writer saying, “Hey! My books sucks, but that writer over there sucks worse than me! So, buy my book!”

People wouldn’t listen to that song! People wouldn’t buy that book! (Unless out of morbid curiosity.)

Sales pitch like this isn’t humility. I much prefer the artists who say that they don’t care if they suck or not; they do it for the love. Or, the artists may choose not to talk at all about sucking. They just do it for the love. Or they don’t say anything about their creation process at all. That’s fine, too.

Heck. I will buy things from artists who say everyone else sucks and only they are brilliant. Why not? It’s great that the artist thinks that what they created is brilliant. I may not agree with them, but goddamn it, if they put it out there, I expect them to have the decency to like what they created. I want them to own up to reality that there is a piece of their heart and soul in their art. What I want to buy is their heart and soul. So, whether I agree with them or not, the artist had better like what they created. Otherwise, in art, at some point, humility becomes a fraud.

Basically, in art, anything other than “I suck but they suck more,” I will take. And I don’t think I’m a particularly rare case. I certainly don’t know anyone who watches movies or buys paintings because the artists said they suck but suck less than others.

And, having gaslit myself enough, I am seeing that the tech industry doesn’t need another set of standards that is different from the art industry. The tech industry most definitely doesn’t deserve a set of standards that requires people to treat its participants as more sensitive, fragile, and insecure beings than friggin’ artists.Hell, some artists have guts, compared to some techies who hide behind the evilness of Big Tech! Even if an artist were to create literal shit, it takes guts to shit publicly (!!!) and make it art.

So, why is it that in the tech industry, this pitch of “I suck but they suck more” has become so prominent? Am I rare in gaslighting myself into believing them? For basically pity-buying them? For not immediately seeing that they are pathetic?


Basically, no more Firefox. No more companies relying on “We suck but they suck more” as their primary sales pitch.

And I will not allow anybody to approach me with pitches along the lines of: “Hey, the products you use suck because they’re Big Tech, because they collect data, because the CEO is too rich, because, because, because… And I have ZERO functioning alternatives whatsoever, but I will just point out that the stuff you use sucks.”

I do not care about their “intention” to make the world “better” by replacing Big Tech with companies that suck more than Big Tech. I will not pretend that what they are doing is any real “replacing” at all–because no actual replacing is occurring! They have no alternative!


And this also applies to life, in general. Surprisingly and unsurprisingly, the tactic of “We suck but they suck more” sells well. This is sad. Quite literally, there are lifestyle coaches, “intellectuals” (sigh), and gurus out there who sell the philosophy of “Life is suffering; everything sucks. So, let me tell you how you can live that sucky life of suffering in a suckier and more suffering way, so that you get really good at sucking and suffering.” It’s the philosophy of “Life is unfair. Everything is against me. That is reality. I am so realistic. So rational, logical, reasonable. Surely, the people who say that life doesn’t have to be such a PITA are delusional. They are idealists. But everyone who is OBJECTIVE knows that ideals and reality are separate.” And then because of that, one’s life unfolds in exactly that way. And I guess, the reward, at the end of one’s life, is that one gets to say, “See? I was right! My life sucked and it was so full of suffering!”

I really hope that people who read this post do not buy what is being sold in the above life philosophies.

You don’t have to listen to me. (Which doesn’t mean that what I am saying sucks. You can listen to me.) What I mean is: it doesn’t make sense to buy something from someone who hates what they sell.

The state of something sucking

The state of believing (and eventually, knowing) that something must suck.

Also,

The state of suffering

The state of believing (and eventually, knowing) that there must be suffering.

I am idealistic enough to believe that the states of something sucking & suffering do not need to last long. Things suck sometimes. Not a big deal. Sometimes there is suffering–if temporarily, one believes that there is something to suffer.

But, start choosing to believe (and, again, eventually, start choosing to know) that such states are inevitable, unavoidable, and desirable, and therefore cannot help but be sold as “reality”–and such states will stay. Look how literally these life philosophies and non-Big-Tech companies are saying that they can’t help but suck, and they have no desire to stop sucking, because others suck more.


Current list of tools I use for production (text and audio)

All of the above said, there are many functioning products out there. Thus, as soon as the self-gaslighting stops, it’s entirely possible to not be a victim at all.

The following, I use. To my knowledge, these companies never said their products suck. And you know what? They don’t! Many of them are, in fact, excellent!

  • Apple – Mac, iPad, iPhone.
    • Affinity Photo: for book covers and other images; one-time purchase, no subscription
    • Logic Pro: for podcast editing; only available on Mac OS; one-time purchase, no subscription
    • Vellum: for EPUB and pdf layout; only available on Mac OS; one-time purchase, no subscription
    • Scrivener: available on multiple OS’s, but, in my opinion, only functioning (as in, usable) on Mac, iPad, iPhone; one -time purchase, no subscription

The best thing I did for production was switching from Windows to everything Apple. There is a reason why creators in various fields (music and video, especially) stick to Apple. Over the years, some Windows users tried to convince me that Apple sucks because its products are “overpriced.” They aren’t. They are only overpriced if you don’t plan to create long-term. If you do plan to create long-term, the one-time costs of programs like Logic Pro and Vellum are worth it.

  • They saved me tens of thousands of dollars over the past 5-ish years. This is not an exaggeration. This is actually so.
  • They also saved me time–years. Yes. YEARS. Several, at least. It takes a long time to hire someone and coordinate schedules. On top of that, in creation, the mere awareness of knowing that someone else exists in creation process can slow down the creation. (Note: Creation/production are same to me.) The more people in the production process, the longer the whole process takes, not only because of the actual steps in the process, but also because of mutual awareness that there are others, there are delays, etc, etc. THE biggest reason I can write as much as I like is thanks to Scrivener. THE biggest reason I can have two biweekly podcasts and not be chased by a schedule is thanks to Logic Pro. I know for a fact that when I do something (write/record/edit, etc), the thing that is done will be out there immediately. It will not be lingering on my mind until it can be addressed later. There is no friggin later! If I die today, that’s fine, because I will have published everything there is to publish, both in audio and text. This is IMMENSE FREEDOM.
  • Also, peace of mind, convenience, general beauty of the software, the friendly and prompt responses from the Vellum guys (Brad & Brad!)… Vellum alone makes getting a Mac worthwhile.
  • Important: I have never had Mac auto-update itself and delete my files in the process. Meanwhile, Windows did. (I did have backup files. I say this because I noticed that, when a user asks questions about deleted files on “help” forums, there is always some genius “helper” who says that the user should’ve “just” backed up the files. Well, guess what, asshole genius: the existence or absence of backup files is irrelevant when it comes to a machine randomly deleting files.) I am never going back to Windows with my production–unless Mac messes up big time, which would put Windows and Mac on an equal footing.
    • Also note that the Mac device that I am using is a very basic one. I just checked: I got this device on June 6, 2018. It only cost $1,299–$1,428.31 with fees and taxes. That included a magic mouse and magic keyboard, and equates to $119.02 per month for 12 months. This machine is so basic, it cannot run the most up-to-date MacOS because that one takes up too much space. But I just keep refusing to update the OS. 😂 And Mac lets me keep the old OS. This computer is slow. One day, the programs I use will not run on this OS anymore. That day hasn’t come yet. And until that day comes, I feel fairly safe in assuming that this particular Mac will not fail me. This kind of secure experience did not exist with Windows.

Also, Scrivener. Scrivener is the best thing that happened in my life, in terms of actual production (as opposed to publication). Scrivener deserves a Museum of Literature & Latte. I don’t know how they make their products to affordable and amazing. They are amazing.

Other tools I use, not specific to the Apple world:

  • Dropbox: for Scrivener syncing across devices; free plan
  • Microsoft Word and excel: yearly plan
  • Designcuts: for art assets to be used on the cover; asset prices vary
  • Workflowy: for organizing lists (ex: mass find-replace step-by-step checklist for text formatting); free plan
  • Notion: rarely; but useful for link sharing and image saving; free plan
  • Siteground: for hosting and purchasing domain names; recurring yearly plan that covers as many websites as needed (I don’t get much direct traffic to websites)
  • Ghost: for one of my websites where I wanted commenting + newsletter in one place; monthly $11
  • Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor): for podcast distribution; free
  • Plausible: for web analytics; yearly, $100-ish (don’t remember exactly)
  • Book distribution: all free, with fees taken when sales occur
    • Amazon KDP
    • Draft2Digital (aggregator)
    • Publishdrive (aggregator)
    • Streetlib (aggregator)
    • Google Play Books Partners Center
  • Grammarly: for quick spell checking; free plan
  • Payhip: for direct sales and delivery of EPUB files; free, with fees taken when sales occur
  • Buy Me a Coffee: for one-time donations; free, with fees taken when sales occur
  • Stripe: payment processing; free, with fees taken when sales occur

There might be some that I left out. Or not. Either way, the point is: clearly, there are functioning products created by people whose primary sales pitch isn’t “they suck.”


Summary

Let us not buy things from people who knowingly sell stuff that sucks. Us–me and you who are reading this. Surely you are reading this because, for whatever reason, you want/need to. So. The rest of the world can buy whatever it wants to; but I sure do hope that you, who put in your resources to read this, do not suffer from suckiness. I really wish that for you.

The good news is that there are plenty of stuff out there that doesn’t suck. Some of them are even excellent.

Btw, this is what I mean by buy/sell. According to Oxford Languages:

  • buy: accept the truth of.
  • sell: persuade someone of the merits of.

Anyway. When creating something, let us not use “I suck, but they suck more” as the primary pitch. The only sadder pitch is “Sucking is the reality of life and therefore cannot be avoided.” Let’s also have the decency of not selling such beliefs to others.


P.S.

I wonder at what point such sales become legally criminal, despite the buyers having voluntarily bought.

For now, I don’t consider Firefox criminal.

I do consider some of the “intellectuals” criminal. But I can also see that the belief in a suffering sucky life gives enough people significant joy. They get to be right, at the end of their lives, about “reality” being full of sucky suffering. So, I guess, it doesn’t matter whether I, as the person who doesn’t buy what is being sold there, believes the sales is criminal or not. The buyers are getting exactly what they wanted. They not only bought voluntarily, but also actually got what they wanted.


This rant was written on the Chrome browser.

Ithaka out.