Niki Cheong is blogging

I've quit Uber: No going Black

My friend who is with MyTeksi often refers to me as a Uber fanboy. I love the service, yes.

However, I’ve not used it in quite a few weeks and won’t be using it in the near future because of a moral dilemma, which I shall explain below:

On the day many of my friends took part in Uber’s charity drive around Kuala Lumpur, I posted this article I wrote a couple of weeks ago for The Star on Medium and Facebook.

Uber, Facebook et al can’t (always) be trusted

The article – written following revelations of ethical impropriety by Uber in the US – was about how we as users need to demand and expect a lot more from digital companies that we have so freely shared our information and data with. I suggested that we needed to find ways to keep them accountable, and one way in which to do this was to boycott them. I did note a flaw though:

There is already a strong movement to delete the Uber app in the US — reports indicate that removal of the app over the past few days is higher than usual — but it is equally important to speak out and pressure these organisations into doing the right thing.

However, with the kind support and backing many of these companies have both morally and financially, often times such efforts only cause a slight glitch.

Earlier this morning, I read a piece by John D. Sutter on CNN about the same issue, titled: “I just can’t quit you, Uber”

In talking about a variety of digital-based services (as was I in my piece), John wrote:

“… its services are so freaking convenient I can’t quit them.

This focus on convenience — and a lacking public discussion about the moral and economic consequences of certain technological advances or, more to the point, the companies that are making billions by pushing forward those advances — gives the tech sector incredible power over consumers that, to me, seems unprecedented.”

It’s true. I too am caught in this moral web of dilemma which is why I’m still happily sharing my information with numerous companies which have made dubious ethical decisions. But that is because I haven’t yet found a good enough alternative.

In the case of Uber, I have now opted to use the executive Blue taxis – they cost a bit more than regular taxis (although, about the same as UberBlack I think) but spares me from the things I dislike about regular taxis. I haven’t yet deleted the Uber app from my phone – I suppose in certain circumstances where I have to use it, I will but only because it is to my convenience. Hence the dilemma.

John Sutter ended his piece saying:

Lacy has deleted Uber from her phone, both because of the statement it sends and because she fears for her safety when using the service. I’m considering the same, and did download Lyft this afternoon.

But here’s a confession I know is both shameful and very 2014 America: I’d still like a protest that’s more convenient.

I think he is right. In these circumstances, protests will only gain traction if people find convenient alternatives because such services is so embedded into our lives. A friend of mine noted on Facebook that she has gone back to “obnoxious individuals in taxis” instead of taking Uber; my compromise is to use a service I don’t normally use (and have to pay a bit more for). I hope that everyone of you find your alternative and send a clear message to companies to show that users should not be taken for granted.

Speaking of which, I’m also trying to find ways to reclaim my content instead of giving it freely to social network sites. I found an alternative in TinyLetter, and in 2015, will start using it as a primary way of connecting with my friends and readers with regards to my professional work and writings. I hope you’ll connect with me there by signing up easily below:

powered by TinyLetter

Oh, and I’m also playing around with Medium as an alternative writing platform. If you’re reading this piece on there (or any of my previous posts) and like it, I’d love for you to use the recommend feature (below – just a click of a button!) so more people will be able to check this out. Thanks!

Discussion (1)

There is one response to “I’ve quit Uber: No going Black”.

  1. sigh, i am a Uber supporter… haiz..

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are bold.

Please copy the string NR0Psw to the field below: