A hammer is neither good nor bad. It is a tool. It is useful. It can be useful in achieving good things, and equally useful in achieving bad things. It is valuable because it is useful, but the fact that it has value does not make it good or bad.
The same is true of an iPhone. The same is true of money. These are all morally neutral, inanimate objects (Siri notwithstanding) that become extensions of human will and volition, and act as a catalyst for whatever good or bad ends we intend. They deserve neither vilification nor praise, except in regards to their usefulness.
Tools have their own qualities and characteristics; they have their own nature. They will react in certain ways to certain conditions. If you slam an iPhone down on a hard surface, it will crack. It’s silly to get angry at the characteristics of the iPhone. Part of growing up is learning to understand and work with the natures of the objects around us, rather than being surprised or angered by them.
So much for tools. What about people? Immanuel Kant, along with just about every decent person I’ve met, would bristle at the thought of people as morally neutral tools; useful if properly employed, but neither praise nor blameworthy in and of themselves. For good reason. People as objects is probably a terrible and incorrect notion. People have wills and can choose right or wrong. People don’t just react, they can act to thwart one another. They have qualities that take them beyond the level of tools. That may be their place in the cosmos, but what about in our day-to-day perceptions?
It can be incredibly enlightening and freeing to treat people with the same neutrality we treat our iPhones. Not because they are the same, but because seeing them that way can help shed bitterness and accomplish more. If, just like you would with an inanimate object, we try to learn the natures of those around us and get an idea of how they will react to conditions around them, we will be better equipped to cooperate for mutual benefit.
Sure, they have motives, but ascribing motives and assuming intentions are often hindrances to productive relationships. Whether or not it’s for good reason, if you know a person gets angry every time you say X, rather than begrudge them this habit, adapt. Learn to navigate the world of human relationships with the same judgement-free attitude you do the non-human world. People have natures. They’ll act in accordance with them. Don’t hold it against them, learn it, know it, expect it, and work with it.
There are certainly times when some kind of confrontation or intervention is required. There are times when working around a person’s modus operandi may be worse than trying to help them see the need to change it. I think these times are rare, and only really worth it when a kind of standing invitation to do so exists in the relationship.
See how it works to view people as morally neutral, rational agents, rather than out to help or harm you. It can turn even unpleasant interactions into a kind of interesting puzzle. It may be untrue, but it is useful and in some ways makes it easier to appreciate people and treat them well.