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Growth is a mind cancer

I'm following with somewhat vague interest the various legal battles Apple is currently involved in. Reading their response to the EU's DMA makes me sad. Not for the company itself. I honestly could not care less about the company. Nor for the people who run that company. I'm sad because the pursuit of endless growth is such a mind cancer. It consumes and distracts everyone. If you're an artisan, creating amazing objects is your end goal. Ideally, you want those objects to last forever. And if they don't, you want to do such an amazing job that once something is broken beyond repair, people will come to you again and ask you to make something new, rather than buying from someone else.

Apple makes amazing products. I bought the laptop I'm typing this 9 years ago. It still works fine. Sure, it's slow compared to my new machine but I can use it to do calls and write blog posts. And that's great. I love it. I was happy to give Apple my money back in 2015. But you know who's not happy? Apple. Apple is not happy that I bought a laptop in 2015 that was so good that it is still working fine 9 years later. And it's also not happy that I bought a phone more than 4 years ago that still does all the things I need it to do. Because they need to make money. More money. There's no end state here. "More" has no end state. At some point, a company like Apple will inevitably run out of people willing to buy their stuff. Because it's unreasonable to expect people to upgrade phones, laptops, screens, watches, tablets, virtual-ski-goggles every damn year. And so what do they do? They move into services. Music, movies, games, fitness, storage. You name it. But those also can't grow forever. Because guess what? There are other companies out there doing the same.
苹果制造了令人惊叹的产品。我买了这台笔记本电脑,我正在用它打字,已经有 9 年了。它仍然运行良好。当然,与我的新机器相比,它速度慢,但我可以用它来打电话和写博客文章。这很棒。我喜欢它。我很高兴在 2015 年把我的钱交给了苹果。但你知道谁不高兴吗?苹果。苹果不高兴我在 2015 年买了一台笔记本电脑,到现在 9 年后仍然运行良好。他们也不高兴我在 4 年多前买了一部手机,仍然能满足我所有的需求。因为他们需要赚更多的钱。没有终点。“更多”没有终点。在某个时候,像苹果这样的公司最终会没有人愿意购买他们的产品。因为期望人们每年升级手机、笔记本电脑、屏幕、手表、平板电脑、虚拟滑雪护目镜是不合理的。那么他们会怎么做呢?他们转向服务。音乐、电影、游戏、健身、存储。你说了算。但这些也不能永远增长。因为猜猜看?还有其他公司在做同样的事情。

But they can't stop. They're a public company. If they're not growing enough it means they're failing. Forget that they make amazing products that can last decades with no issues. Forget that they're an almost 3-fucking-trillions dollar company. If they're not growing enough, stock goes down and that's no good. Because remember, there's no finish line here. They can't just be happy with their size. They can't be happy with the idea of employing thousands of smart people and creating amazing products. No, they have to keep growing. And sooner or later, this mind cancer becomes malignant.
但他们不能停下来。他们是一家上市公司。如果他们的增长不够,那意味着他们失败了。忘记他们生产的产品可以持续数十年而无任何问题。忘记他们是一家价值近 3 万亿美元的公司。如果他们的增长不够,股价就会下跌,这是不好的。因为请记住,这里没有终点。他们不能仅仅满足于自己的规模。他们不能仅仅满足于雇佣成千上万聪明人并生产出优秀产品的想法。不,他们必须继续增长。迟早,这种心灵癌症会变得恶性。

Don't get me wrong, this is not just an Apple issue. It's an issue with any big company. It's an issue with everyone who can't accept that they reached their end state.

Cory Doctorow famously coined the enshittification term to describe the sad trend of online services going to shit over time. I don't think that's just an online services issue. It's a societal issue related to the pursuit of endless growth. And if you think about it, it's a deeply human issue. It's what happens when you can't say stop. No matter what you're doing, it can be something positive or negative, if you can't say stop, bad things will happen. Try to go for a run, and don't stop. Ever. Or try to drink water, and don't stop. Ever.
科里·多克托罗(Cory Doctorow)曾经创造了“恶化”这个词来描述在线服务随着时间的推移变得糟糕的悲哀趋势。我认为这不仅仅是在线服务的问题。这是一个与无止境增长追求相关的社会问题。如果你仔细想想,这是一个深刻的人类问题。当你无法说停止时,就会发生这种情况。无论你在做什么,无论是积极的还是消极的,如果你无法说停止,坏事就会发生。试着去跑步,永远不要停下来。或者试着喝水,永远不要停下来。

But it's our fault. Our as a society. We celebrate when Apple becomes the first trillion-dollar company but we don't celebrate when someone says "You know what? I think I have enough".

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