Prompt 116: E-Commerce
116. E-commerce websites like Amazon.com became very popular in the 1990s. In what ways did this development help and hurt regular stores? Would you rather run a store online or in person and why?
I'm not religious, but I refer to Google as The Great Satan. However I think Amazon will be taking that spot soon enough. I think it's actually worse than Google in several ways. Amazon is a company that's tempted people into wrecking not just their own lives, but their own communities.
I still remember the moment I first learned of Amazon. I was sitting in my now-favourite college professor's office (she's the dean of that department now), and she was sharing with me her enthusiasm for the Internet. I learned about a "search engine" and Lexis Nexis and this fantastic bookstore called Amazon. I don't think Bezos had even dreamed of being the CEO of the company back then, in the late '90s. As time went on, the Internet blew up, the September became Eternal, postmodernism took hold of discourse and capitalism took hold of online shopping.
Now, Amazon is the world's Company Store, and we're all forced to address it. Like many things in life, online presence is a capitalist treadmill: if you're not in, you're being left behind, and once you're in you have to keep running or you'll be trampled. It doesn't have to be this way, but that's how it is. It's the same way with social media and becoming a "content producer." Hell, it's the same way with how WalMart was in the early 2000s and 2010s.
The worst thing about it is that the winners keep winning, and it damages the whole rather than benefits it. What good to humanity is having a "big three" online stores, a big three social media platforms, or a big three news sources? They inevitably become co-opted by corporate interests, which - being inherently capitalist and domineering - seek to be the one and only option By Any Means Necessary. So now, entire towns are full of Amazon shoppers and empty storefronts. People lament about low wages and the lack of jobs and the fact they need to commute an hour to their office job while at the same time funneling more money into Amazon Prime two-day shipping instead of the electronics store three miles away from their house.
How can people not understand this? "But it's so convenient." "Well if Bob's General Store had deals as good as Amazon, they'd still be in business." That's a common response/argument, too....Those kinds of responses make me nauseous.
There are two massive distribution centers in the city where I work, where they pay their workers crap wages, crap benefits, and barely enough time to take a lunch break or even a bathroom break. Nationwide, the highways are littered with "Trucker Bombs," while the suburbs are littered with "Amazon Delivery Driver Bombs." Had the town not been gutted of industry already, its death knell would have been sometime round 2010, when Amazon really began picking up steam.
It can't be just these consumers' own selfishness or ignorance to blame. Here's how it works (again, in modern times this blueprint was drafted by WalMart): Come in with your massive corporate assets, buy up real estate on the cheap plus incentives, undersell all the legitimate community-benefiting businesses and gradually become the only game in town. While that is in process, plan out which community you'll do it to in the next one.
Capitalism enables this. Were it not possible for a corporate "person" to legally funnel all assets upwards - out of the hands of the many into the hands (and offshore bank accounts) of the few - this "winner take all" mindset wouldn't be held up as a pinnacle of business achievement. Instead of Bezos being noted as a "hugely successful businessman," he'd be seen for the Scrooge he really is.
If I ever hear someone's kid say, "I wanna be like Bezos when I grow up," I'll have nothing but pity for them. They are so completely ignorant it boggles the mind.
While I'm at it... Just forget production and manufacturing within the US, okay? That ship sailed long ago, thanks primarily to "free trade agreements" and the union-busting that laid waste to this country for the benefit of these corporate "persons." Lyft and Uber have done this to transportation companies nationwide, standing on the shoulders of oil companies that gutted public transportation starting way back in the 1950s. To hell with the US government, talking out of both sides of its mouth. The leaders of the country I was born and raised in now make me ashamed (and sometimes anxious, actually) about that fact.
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