Hi, I'm

Jonathan Pike 👋

I'm a software developer in St. Albert, Alberta.

At What Cost

July 09, 2017 # permalink

Last month, the Verge published an exclusive excerpt from The One Device by Brian Merchant, which I read with much interest. While there were many interesting anecdotes about the origins of the iPhone, one paragraph in particular caught my eye:

“The iPhone is the reason I’m divorced,” Andy Grignon, a senior iPhone engineer, tells me. I heard that sentiment more than once throughout my dozens of interviews with the iPhone’s key architects and engineers. “Yeah, the iPhone ruined more than a few marriages,” says another.

Consumers and journalists alike have been recollecting the announcement and release of the original iPhone as we approached its 10th anniversary, echoing that this device changed the world and ushered in the new mobile regime. And while the iPhone is an innovation and a product that’s worth celebrating, I don’t believe that even such a great device is worth the human cost to those families. My family is the most important thing in the world to me. More important than any career goal, more important than introducing a cool computer into the world.

This disturbing misplacement of priority isn’t just present with the release of the iPhone. When Apple posted this promo for Planet of the Apps, my Twitter blew up with people telling it like it is: workaholism isn’t a badge of honour; it’s abuse. I especially liked this tweet from Marco Arment:

If you expect your employees to abandon their families or home life in “devotion” to your business, you’re abusive and should manage better.

Other companies have not been blameless in supporting workaholism, such as Microsoft with their #GetItDone campaign late last year. Workaholism is a plague that afflicts the modern workforce, silently destroying marriages and separating families for the sake of the next great thing or improving the bottom line.

On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see workaholism being inoculated against with initiatives like Basecamp’s Work Can Wait and this amazing billboard by the Red X. Aside from the actions of companies, I hope that workers in these situations would realize that the company they are working for is not worth shipwrecking your marriage and splitting up your family over.