Sometimes I forget how privileged I am to work for a large technology organisation. Many of the things that I thought were incredible perks back in 2010 I now take for granted.
The more a company gives you, the more the perks are normalised. It’s easy to take things for granted and dismiss a company’s generosity.
I’m really grateful for what I have, and I try (and often fail) not take it for granted.
I remember my first week at Microsoft UK, there is an internal email group called "Social" which most employees join. It’s the place to post random information, sell things and often have a rant about the latest company policy.
It was on "Social" that I read an email from a really annoyed employee. He was complaining that the free drinks fridge in the London office was better than the free drink fridge in the Reading office because the London office had Ribena.
Despite the 10 or so other drinks offered free of charge in the Reading fridges he angrily exclaimed that the specific lack of Ribena was yet another sign that the London office was getting a better deal.
Can you imagine how good your working environment must be for this to be the biggest problem? Frustrating you so much that you feel the need to reach for the keyboard and type out an angry email and send it to the rest of the company?
I was reminded of this story recently when someone on twitter was complaining that a feature of jsbin.com was not offered free of charge and only part of the pro version.
The feature in question was secure embeds of Jsbin’s. The questioner exclaimed, with riotous indignation, that jsbin was "Charging extra for security". Ignoring entirely that @Rem (the person behind jsbin) has worked tirelessly for years on services, blogs, tutorials, videos and open source software and provided jsbin wholly free of charge for as long as I can remember and I suspect at a tremendous personal cost.
I don’t blame the questioner. We all normalise the privileges we receive, lose our context and take for granted the excellent work of others. I suspect that they assume that Jsbin is some vast megacorp.
As developers, we are growing to expect free benefits from large corporations. Many of whom offset the cost against other revenue streams.
This is leading to, complaints, abuse and snark on the GitHub issues of open source projects and on the twitter accounts of excellent companies and developers that are trying to build something for the good of the community.
When I write a review, compose a negative email, or post a complaining tweet. I ask myself a question: Am I the sort of person that complains about the lack of Ribena in the free drinks fridge? Because being that person is not the way to make the world a better place.