Dear Designer

Dear Designer: If You Want to Make the World a Better Place, Start With Your Day Job

Giving back is admirable, but it can’t undo the damage your employer is doing

Mike Monteiro
Published in
7 min readAug 21, 2019


Illustration: Joe O’Donnell

Dear Mike,

I work at a large social media company that does some shady shit. The team I’m on doesn’t do the actual shady shit. We’re shit-adjacent. I’m actually proud of what my team does. And I like working there. So every once in a while I’ll donate part of my paycheck to a good cause, or a candidate who wants to regulate some of the shady shit that we do. Does that make up for the shady shit?

Dear Designer,

Great question. The answer is no, it does not make up for the shady shit.

First off, let me applaud you for the decent things you do, because they are in fact decent. It’s a damn nice thing to donate your money, or your time, to an organization or a cause that needs it. And I certainly don’t want to talk you out of that. Please continue, and urge others to do the same.

But that’s not what you asked me. You asked me if it made up for the shady shit. Which means you’re looking for an ethical offset. In other words, Does the good I do over here make up for the bad I do over there? The idea of…



Mike Monteiro
Writer for

English is my second language. You were my first.