You know Stockholm syndrome, the psychological reversal that sometimes causes hostages to become emotionally attached to their captors? I can’t help but feel that something quite similar happens with the corporations from whom we purchase an increasing proportion of the equipment and supplies for daily life.
Take my current situation. While living in
Or look at my new laptop purchase decision.
Ever since seeing Matt Mower’s swanky Macbook do things my laptops have never done (like come back from standby in less than an eternity), I’ve been thinking of ditching
Microsoft’s bloated and embarrassingly ill constructed operating systems for the
stylish dictatorship of Apple. Yet, when I played with a Macbook Air in the
shop the other week, I got cold feet – just using a mouse with a single button
was enough to freak me out. I’m sure I’d learn to use it, but it was
sufficiently different to make me nervous. And now it looks like I will
be getting yet another Windows-based laptop (although I pray I will not be
Which makes me wonder: am I suffering from some kind of brand-version of Stockholm syndrome? I hate these companies, yet continue to give them my money. And this is doubly bizarre since elsewhere in my life I maintain such staunch boycotts on political grounds – Nestlé are still a company I will not purchase from after the African powdered milk scandal of the 1970's (despite the fact that I can’t work out what action it would take from the multinational packaged food company that would end the boycott at this point), and my pointless boycotts of EA (such as FEAP, the Futile EA Protest) have remained a feature of my life for some time as a vain attempt to protest their lack of investment in original titles.
Psychologists suggest that
Wondering whether I have trauma bonded with
Microsoft and HP after years of abuse is a disturbing idea… these companies
have brought me such suffering over the years, admittedly on a grossly trivial
scale as far as human suffering goes, yet I stick with them – albeit with great
reluctance. (In respect of the triviality, I am reminded of Mel Brooks’ line: “tragedy
is when I slip on a banana peel and fall down, and comedy is when you fall down
a manhole and die”).
Partly, however, my failure to escape has been a result of other circumstances. I was not keen on getting another HP, but of the units available in the shops around me (I’m reluctant to buy equipment I haven’t at least seen, although I sometimes examine units in the shops and then order online) only Hewlett Packard had one that checked all the boxes. Plus, it was grossly reduced in price, and this seemed like an incentive rather than, say, a trap. Similarly, I can’t ever truly escape Windows while I work in the videogame industry and am developing for Microsoft operating systems on a regular basis. These other factors cloud the issue somewhat.
I wonder if other people have any similar experiences. Have you ever noticed something akin to Stockholm syndrome in your dealing with companies? Ever stuck with a company that has abused you, or found yourself buying repeatedly from a corporation you hate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!