On Random Facebook Philosophizing

Today has been a great day for comments on Facebook. Usually there’s no reason to ever remember a comment made on Facebook — Facebook is such a transient thing, after all — but today I made two that I thought with pithy and important and worth remembering.

The first has to do with GameStop.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out today, and GameStop instructed its stores to open the PC boxes and remove a code that would give the buyer a free digital download of the game. You can read the full story here or here.

GameStop’s official response, which was posted on Facebook, read:

Regarding the Deus Ex OnLive Codes: GameStop’s policy is that we do not promote competitive services without a formal partnership.
Square Enix packed a competitor’s coupon within the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution without our prior knowledge and we did pull these coupons.
While the new products may be opened, we fully guarantee the condition of the discs to be new. If you find this to not be the case, please contact the store where the game was purchased and they will further assist.

Let’s unpack this. GameStop is saying that Square-Enix, the publishers of the game, screwed GameStop over by offering a digital download service to consumers in the game, so GameStop had to remove the offending digital download code before they could sell the game. So it’s not GameStop that’s at fault for this, it’s Square-Enix that’s at fault because they tried to give something away to the consumer for free.

Here’s what I posted to GameStop’s Facebook page:

GameStop abuses its employees. GameStop abuses its customers. GameStop senior management thinks they can get away with both because they believe their employees need the paycheck more than they need the respect and they think their customers have nowhere else to go. Here’s a rare instance of GameStop getting caught in its abuse. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company.

GameStop does, in fact, abuse its employees. I should know, I used to be a store manager for them.

To my surprise, this comment still seems to be on GameStop’s wall. They’ve been deleting comments during the day.

GameStop’s reaction to the whole imbroglio, which has seen the company take a serious PR hit online, has been to pull Deus Ex: Human Revolution from store shelves altogether.

Way to keep it classy, GameStop. :h2g2:

Later in the day, a friend posted a link to an article at CNN — Penn Jillette explains how his atheism makes him a libertarian.

Jillette is not actually an atheist. He calls himself an atheist in the essay, but he’s actually an agnostic. He makes a point of saying, repeatedly, that he “doesn’t know.” The chain of logic from his agnosticism to his libertarianism isn’t clear to me; he doesn’t know if there’s a god, so he can’t be sure if government works — or is even a societal good. One of the bullet points in the article is this: “He says relying on the government to make others give is immoral and lazy,” which is akin to Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Social Darwinism as the governing philosophy of the Republican Party because the New Deal weakened American society. It’s an interesting article, and while I didn’t agree with it, it did prompt some thought on my part, and here’s what I wrote in response:

I’m an atheist. I’m also a liberal. Neither caused the other, but they do reinforce each other. Because I’m an atheist, I have no higher power to call upon, no afterlife in a better world to look forward to. This is the only shot I get at life, this is the only world I’ll ever know. At least, that’s my metaphysical view of things, and it motivates me to make a world that tends towards entropy a better place. I live a life of compassion, kindness, caritas, and love not because a deity will smite me or society makes me but because it’s the only way I know to leave the world in a better place than I found it. Atheism and liberalism aren’t causative, but they do go hand in hand.

Which, really, is not a bad philosophy to have.

The thing about entropy is this. The natural course of the universe is entropy and decay. Conservatives want to keep things the way they are, they want to maintain the status quo. Liberals want to improve on the status quo, to make things fairer, society stronger, and the world better. Both have to fight against entropy, both have to swim upstream. Liberals have to swim harder.

Sometimes, I have profound thoughts. Sometimes, they even happen on Facebook.

It’s strange when that happens.

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