Tech

During the pandemic, I was obsessed with Amazon — but it’s time to give it up and deliver a better world.

These days, in these seemingly ridiculous days of the pandemic, every time a piece of luggage arrives from Amazon at my doorstep, I rush out of the porch and whisk it out so that my neighbors don’t see it. Look around.

I know I shouldn’t order from Amazon. I know that Amazon warehouse workers are infected with COVID-19, and I should buy them locally. But for some reason, the pandemic combination of boredom, loneliness, and selfishness is a powerful combination, and despite my and my unstable spare bank account, everything from new backpacks to Japanese knives is me. Appeared at the front door of.

That certainly shameful activity came to my mind recently when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he would move away from leadership in the company and shift to a coaching role. Bezos’ reign is noteworthy, whether he is an Amazon fan or not. Initially, Amazon was primarily thought of as a bookstore, but it’s actually more like a large logistics business than a retailer, a giant giant like cloud computing, distribution systems, and global sourcing. became.

Still — Amazon is more convenient than anything else for most people. There’s something semi-futuristic and semi-dystopian about getting someone to rush through the snow the next day with a vague thumbs up late at night. Thanks to Amazon, you can take 100 books to the beach, play music to your speakers with just your voice, ask why the sky is blue and get your answers back.

In that sense, Bezos’ tenure at Amazon feels like progress, but it’s a bit strange, with no progress. Convenient, yes, but somehow everything is for convenience, not much else.

The harm caused by the Amazon forms a long list. It started with thinning out both large and small bookstores, but soon turned into something more insidious. SMEs generally began to find it difficult to compete with Seattle-based giants, and during COVID-19 consumers were asked to shop locally to stop further control. The company has been accused of abusing warehouse workers both a few years ago and recently.

And as the range expanded, so did the disease. While sharing surveillance data from the ring doorbell camera with the police, it helps to normalize surveillance with Alexa’s voice and camera projects.

It doesn’t seem clear if it represents progress. Proponents of technological change and the free market will argue that convenience is simply what people want. Yes, there are casualties in change, but overall, change is good.

But the idea that change should be welcomed has long been an outdated, backward-looking idea. Much closer to the pioneer is the idea of ​​suppression or rejection. When it comes to convenience issues, the issues raised (Big Tech’s insidiousness, the challenges of climate change between them) mean after centuries of march, to simplify everything we do. You may need to learn to say no.

Obviously, it’s not easy. Obviously, I’m having a hard time saying no lately. Perhaps it suggests that asking an individual to take on Amazon is a ridiculously distorted position to take. The “convenience” provided by companies like Amazon may need to be reduced because it is too costly. Even considering the environmental costs of the free market, where people can order countless trinkets with free shipping, it’s clear that simply making things more seamless or frictionless is not a good thing that isn’t alleviated.

It can feel like our idea of ​​progress is broken. What you really need to do — a surge in people with mental illness. The looming climate crisis. The seams of society that are beginning to fray from inequality, disinformation and prejudice have not really been addressed by the technological revolution at all. Talking about whether our humanity and dignity are also improving sounds a bit “woooo”, but isn’t the simple thing that the question itself sounds naive as to where the problem occurred?

To change the world, you have to start at least small things. I would have to give up this Amazon addiction of mine for the sake of the earth, for my wallet-and dare to say, even like my soul. But if something bigger changes, that is, to resist the Amazonization of the world, it requires more than just personal action. We need to rethink the idea of ​​progress itself.

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Navneet Alang is a Toronto-based star freelance contribution technology columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @navalang

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During the pandemic, I was obsessed with Amazon — but it’s time to give it up and deliver a better world.

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