Ethical Crisis and Flappy Bird

A certain fog of sadness has descended upon me with certain revelations about a certain acquaintance and his actions. When the uglier sides (or are they just repressed?) of humanity are unearthed and displayed, so many latent questions are dredged up along them. How should we judge others, and how are we ourselves to be judged? As an extreme hypothetical, suppose someone found the cure for cancer and saved millions of lives but was also a murderer. Where do the scales fall? Where should they fall?

A friend who majored in video games brought up the news article about the game Flappy Bird, whose creator recently revealed that he pulled the game off the market because it was too addictive (link). Which seemed interesting to me because I’m quite skeptical that the elimination of one game, which has already spawned many clones, would meaningfully curtail game addiction. And to give up what’s been reported as up to $50k per day for such a reason seems almost crazy to me. But said friend, the only one who’s a Kantian (or at least who outwardly would admit so), brought up the fact that ethical reasoning doesn’t work in that manner, and mentioning the categorical imperative in a twitter conversation (which, in my book, deserves an award of some kind).

This would be an inconsequential piece of chatter but for my state of mind as outlined in par. 1 above. Somehow, thoughts fill those little moments of vacuum, and then I am sad. Isn’t who we hang out with, and what things we choose to do, a judgment of our character? I was reminded of an incident from college, where one of my dorm mates, whom we thought was maybe a bit eccentric and maybe a bit angry, but otherwise not of special notice in the loony bin that is Stanford, ran over his dad with his car. (Aside: I wonder what percent of the population is an acquaintance with a murderer anyway?) Had it been invented back then, wouldn’t he have been a facebook friend? Was he a bad person? I don’t know the circumstances of his situation and would find it difficult to think that his would be justifiable patricide, but does one notable bad action result in someone being bad?

Some lines of thoughts cross, and I’m left with questions. Given that ballet supports this ideal of thinness as beautiful, am I complicit in girls’ eating disorders? Since I willingly work in tech, am I guilty of promoting income inequality? Maybe these rules are such that there’s no way to win, but who’s to say that we need must play the game?