You don’t really believe in human rights do you?
Can we say we support human rights and buy or sell on Amazon?
Ok. First thing’s first. Full disclosure. Because I can’t really wax lyrical about how bad Amazon is and not be honest about my spending on it…
I bought stuff from amazon.co.uk at Christmas time.
As I was checking out, I was duped into signing up for a free trial of their bullshit marketing scam, otherwise known as, Prime. As soon as I realised, I swiftly cancelled it. But I ended up making use of the month’s ‘free trial’ and bought a few more things for my DIY project in the bathroom, along with one Christmas gift — a kid’s jigsaw. The bullshit marketing worked. Sucker.
In total I ended up spending £77.79. A drop in the ocean but enough to send my moral compass a little haywire.
Before those purchases, we also had to buy a 3D printer for our startup project. The delivery times and cost couldn’t be beaten. The printer was being sold by a seller in China who distributes via Amazon’s warehouse in the UK.
The only other order I placed last year was for a book that cost £10.61. And in 2019, I can happily say I only placed 3 orders, a total of £39.55.
I haven’t bought anything from the behemoth in 2021.
And I don’t intend to.
What’s so bad about buying from Amazon anyway?
I hate Amazon. I hate everything about it. Bizarre really, as ‘Amazon’ is nothing more than a word. And in this context, a url. A corporate entity.
Even before the latest revelations about their employees, our fellow human beings, being forced to pee in bottles, I wasn’t a fan. The stories about awful wages, zero hours contracts, the constant human rights violations seem to be never ending.
If video killed the radio star, then Amazon is killing, well, everything.
Society. Conversation. Independent shops. Choice. Our souls.
Their current TV advert is nothing more than an example of corporate greenwashing. You know the one, where an ‘employee’ is so proud to work for them as they’re investing in an electric fleet of vans and renewable energy. Right-o all is forgiven then.
Please Bezos, and your advertising gurus at Joint London, we can see through it for what it is.
I digress. Back to the original question…
Can we support human rights and buy/sell an Amazon?
Before I give a recent real life example of why I believe the answer to that is no (spolier and certainly not on a grand scale without thinking about it), I’m going to share a quote from Joel Bakan. It’s taken from Russell Brand’s Under the Skin podcast, no174, called, “The Horror of Brand Power”.
You are right to be cynical about the posturing. I mean Amazon is talking about Black Lives Matters while at the same time busting Unions, primarily being put together by workers who are People of Colour/African Americans in the US and other People of Colour, in highly exploitative conditions where they’re unsafe due to the pandemic. They’re trying to say something, they’re getting fired for doing that, they’re working in horrendous slave like conditions. They’re having any minimal employment standards that are provided them by law, evaded, avoided, squelched, lobbied against. So it’s just absolutely, it’s hard to be too cynical and that’s a very sad thing.
I was thinking about writing this article and then I heard this. And then I knew I had to write the article.
The way they treat people is abhorrent.
I started to consider who is to blame for Amazon’s continued existence and maltreatment of human beings? Is it the Government? Is it Bezos? Is it the sellers? Or is it us for buying from it?
And who has the power to solve it?
Let’s agree that the UK or US Governments aren’t going to do anything to rectify the human rights violations.
And clearly Bezos isn’t interested. He has the power to change things tomorrow.
But what if no one was engaging with Amazon.com or .co.uk or .whereveryouareintheworld ?
What if there were no sellers on Amazon?
There are 1.9 million sellers on Amazon worldwide. If there were no sellers, there would be not very much to buy.
One such seller is an ‘influencer’ on Instagram with an account that has over 3 million followers.
Their book, which I bought from Waterstones in the UK is brilliant.
So I would like to stress, I am absolutely not trying to detract from what this person is doing. Absolutely not. I believe their work can help heal the world. And I hope the account continues to add more followers.
Given the content of the book and this person’s work, I kinda wish they’d chosen the path less followed in order to get it out there to the masses.
They chose Amazon as their primary and main source of distribution. I get it, it’s the easy option. But is it really the only one? Or the right one?
Not only that. The author is also showing their support for an independent book store owned by black people.
Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?
By using Amazon as their main seller, aren’t sellers — all sellers — essentially supporting the awful treatment of black, brown and yes even the working class white people who ‘work’ for Amazon?
Not to mention giving the green light to tax avoidance?
The book in question has the power to change people. And it might well have the power to change Bezos. Because I’m pretty sure anyone who needs nine zeros in their bank account is damaged.
What if buyers started to feel guilty about interacting with Amazon?
We are people who buy things. Things we need. And things we don’t.
But we are not consumers — we are so much more than that. And we really need to rise above that label.
We need to be human beings who make conscious, informed decisions. And if that decision is sometimes less than perfect, then we need to at least be aware of that.
So that when we do buy from Amazon (or any other corporation) we feel a pang of guilt about it. So that we start to spend less and less and less.
Because I really don’t think we can continue to bury our heads in the sand.
Whether buyer or seller.
It’s not ok to know what we know about Amazon’s lack of ethics and morals, Bezos’s continued hoarding and to continue to spend, spend, spend on Amazon. And then in the same breath say we stand up for human rights and movements like Black Lives Matter.
We need to walk the talk. We need to mean what we say. And our actions and choices have to be consistent and not contradictory.
Anyone who is in a position to really start thinking about their choices, has to make that effort. At the very least, so we can be aware of supporting corporations that are treating people like collateral damage.
Because no matter what, we are all human. Connected. And we owe it to each other to think about how our decisions affect others.
Today, before I published this article I closed my Amazon.co.uk account. Once I’d searched ‘how to close amazon account’, it was actually much easier than I thought.
And now I am vowing to do everything I possibly can not to reopen it. Time will tell.
References (just in case you missed any of this stuff…):
List of Amazon brands
Amazon Gift Cards
Whole Foods Market
Amazon warehouse now owned in tax haven after £6.3m tax payer subsidy Amazon's flagship Scottish centre, which received millions of pounds in publicly funded grants, is now owned in a tax… theferret.scot