Attitude of Entitlement

I was involved in a discussion on a technical mailing list about the problems Google (and possibly millions of gmail users) would run into if Google were to make a certain change the SPF records for "gmail.com". This change would mean that anybody who uses their gmail address with a "normal" email program like Thunderbird, and who wanted to send outbound email using that program, would need to configure their email program to use Google's (currently non-existent) relay servers to send mail. (I won't go any farther into the technical points here- if you're interested, here is the message which started the thread.)

The discussion came down to how much extra load there would be on Google's support infrastructure if they were to make this change- not only because most people wouldn't understand the change or why it was necessary, but because many people would demand that Google "fix it" for them, rather than taking a few minutes to find and read the web page (which Google would certainly write) which would explain how to configure their email software correctly. Many people would have an attitude of "I already set this up once, and now YOU changed something, and it's creating extra work for me, so YOU (Google) should fix this for me."

While typing a reply about this, it occurred to me that this "attitude of entitlement" I predict on the part of Google's users, is the same "attitude of entitlement" that I've seen on the part of many ISP users whenever I've had to make a change on an ISP server- that because we (the ISP) changed something on our servers, it created a little bit of inconvenience for them (the users) and somehow we "owe them something" for our trouble... I have personally had users demand that I send a tech out to their house to make a change which involves turning on one checkbox.

I've also noticed in the past that most people have the same kind of "attitude of entitlement" toward the Federal Government (i.e. the "Gummint(tm)") as well- basically, that if something goes wrong, no matter what it is, it's the job of the Gummint(tm) to fix it.

And this is wrong.

Understanding why it's wrong inolves understanding the relationship between the Gummint(tm) and the people... or more properly, the relationship between the Federal Government and "WE THE PEOPLE".

Without going into too much detail, it boils down to this one fact: the Federal Government only exists because the Constitution says it does, and the Constitution only exists because WE THE PEOPLE decided to write it. Power doesn't flow from the Gummint(tm) to the people, power starts in the people and is given to the Gummint(tm).

Remember that our forefathers, the people who established the original colonies and decided to band together as a single nation, did everything for themselves. They didn't have a Gummint(tm) to ask for things like help with the neighbors, or an education, or a job... all they had was the skills and abilities they were born with, and large pieces of land upon which to ply their trades.

It seems to me that this "can-do" attitude, "pioneer spirit", "work ethic", whatever you want to call it- has been slowly declining as time has gone by. It's been replaced by what I see as a kind of laziness... an attitude of wanting somebody else to come along and solve their problems for them. This attitude-shift is a major part of implementing Socialism, but that's a topic for a different post sometime.

The thing is, this tendency to look for others to solve their problems, has become so in-grained in people that they have started to expect others to solve all of their problems, as if they are ENTITLED to have all their problems solved for them.

This is what I've come to refer to as the "Attitude of Entitlement". Many people seem to feel as though they are entitled to be treated a certain way, or entitled to be given certain things, and when they don't get whatever it is they think they deserve, it's okay to act like an asshole towards whoever isn't treating them in the way they think they're entitled.

So where am I going with this? Nowhere, really... just documenting a strange mental connection I made while answering an email.

Maybe this- people should stop considering themselves to be "entitled" to things, start considering how their demands affect other peoples' lives, and try to be more polite when dealing with other people?

And maybe a reminder for people who ask me questions on the Internet... unless you are PAYING me, you are not ENTITLED to an answer. If you ask a question and I choose to answer it, I am doing a SERVICE for you, because in almost every case you could do a simple Google search and find the answer for yourself. And even if not, you could always learn enough about the subject matter (usually qmail) to figure the answer out for yourself. If I choose to answer your question, I'm saving you the time and effort it would take for you to figure it out for yourself. Remember that.


Random thought...

I just noticed... the artwork behind Apple's new operating system, "Leopard", reminds me of the cover of Erasure's "Light at the End of the World" album cover. Probably just the black and purple colours and the stars...