*Don't* use what works for you

Sun 26 November 2023 by R.L. Dane

I was watching a youtuber I rather like, and he closed out his video talking about his pragmatic approach to operating systems. He said he used multiple OSes (some FOSS and some non-FOSS), and he summed up his approach with "Use what works for you."

This is not a polemic against that person or his words. I rather appreciate that person, and continue to enjoy his content. I would, however, like to offer a different viewpoint.

I think if we were to analyze the pragmatic approach to computing, the central logical pivot is that we have more to do than to worry about FOSS, and we have to prioritize and pick our battles. Sure enough, everyone has to do this, nobody can be 100% idealistic 100% of the time.

But I think people can be a little quick to give themselves an out. Just because you're busy doesn't mean you don't owe it to yourself and the rest of the world to explore the best options and be aware of the ramifications of each.

A perfect idealist (using the term in the colloquial sense) wouldn't be able to live in the world at all. Every single decision, every single step taken in the world is rife with compromise, and every thing done on the Earth is tainted with injustice: I live in a land built on the backs of slaves, eat because of money indirectly earned through exploitation, and dwell in a country that considers the life of someone outside of it to be worth far less than someone dwelling within it, and that of the rich and powerful far above "the orphan and the widow." To be completely aware of every single variable of modern existence is to be completely paralysed, suspended between life and death, not able to achieve a moment's rest. There is no purely just and ethical existence in this world, except possibly to live as a hermit. Even then, as a hermit, you'd be living a far better life than a great number of citizens of planet Earth.

On the other hand, a perfect pragmatist would not fight for anything, would not defend anything, and would not have a life worth living.

We all find ourselves dwelling between those two extremes. So why is it that the pragmatic one is the most vocal? A staunch idealist forced to recognize that there will always be pragmatic forces in their life will be steered away from idealistic extremes. The pragmatist forced to realize that there are things worth fighting for (and indeed, that they would fight to the death without the slightest bit of coercion if the price of not doing so was high enough), will be awakened from a meagre existence of self-preservation and self-satisfaction.

Note: This article has a Part II !