Tell me if you've heard this one.
The problem with [technology/startups/Silicon Valley] is that they create [popular app] and don't even know about [really important thing].
I've heard it several times and it completely misses the reality of politics, culture, and the orientation of change that is created by technology.
While we'd like to categorize a technology or product into buckets labeled "good" and "bad" it ignores the reality of an irreversibly changing world. The changes created by technology are not universally positive or negative.
Software that can help people talk to one another anonymously can be used by Alcoholics Anonymous just as easily as it can be used by terrorists or teenagers plotting a group suicide. The technology itself has no moral code and it would be a mistake to try and enforce one because once something is possible it will be done, sooner or later.
Since we can't name a technology as being positive or negative it's our second instinct to trivialize it or hail it as revolutionary which is always the case with social tools that give a voice to the previously voiceless. While we all agree with the principle of free speech we easily forget that most people do little of interest and have little of interest to say. We can either focus on the triviality of the majority of speech in a social tool or exhaustively praise what we feel is important. Both approaches are wrong and miss the real impact the tool will eventually have.
One of the biggest problems we have in our culture is that people lack understanding of one another. People who disagree have very little empathy for those they disagree with and when we exchange only opinion with each other it's easy to dehumanize one another. This is why social tools that share more than opinions and political beliefs are important. If we can share our humanity and our culture with each other we might regain civility in our discourse. This is why sharing brief thoughts of family and moments captured in photos are important.
My last bit of criticism is that it's as easy as it is hypocritical to compare something popular to something important. Something popular, something that has caught the attention of millions of people, can always be made trivial next to something your readers and followers believe to be important. The fact that it exists, and that people care, appears to be evidence enough that the whole world has terrible values and motives.
People rarely devote themselves to the things they find to be most important in the world, they devote themselves to what they are good at and what makes them happy. I once left my job in technology to work for a book publisher because they were doing work that I admired. After a few days the reality set in that I was objectively terrible at packing boxes and could never be happy with that job no matter how great I felt about the output.
To degrade other's work because they have specialized around what they are good at and what makes them happy because it's not contributing to what you feel is important is incredibly hypocritical since you are most likely talking about what you think is important and working on what you're good at just like they are. People admire those doing what they can't, people who have the talent and ability to take on the important work that we find ourselves to be inadequate at. We should all be happy about what we do, support and admire those doing what we cannot, and keep our mouths shut about those who are lucky and successful in what we simply don't care about.