The Inescapable Reach of Prime Day
I didn’t buy anything, but I still inadvertently helped Amazon
Amazon Prime Day was the first two days of this week, a statement that has no right to make any sense whatsoever. But here we are.
Depending on the circles you travel in, it was either a great day to get some deals on a few things you wanted and many you didn’t, or a chance to support a walkout by Amazon warehouse workers in a few key locations.
Doing that second one isn’t as easy as it might have looked.
I decided to take a break from purchases on Prime Day this year, both because I think that it’s probably a good idea for Amazon warehouse workers to have some kind of union representation, and also because I didn’t really need anything.
Buying things that are on sale just because they are cheap is a slippery slope.
Truly avoiding Amazon on their big sales day(s) isn’t just about not buying anything. The folks fighting for those warehouse workers also asked people to avoid Amazon-owned web sites like the Internet Movie Database and Twitch, and stop using their streaming services as well.
Getting away from Amazon’s tendrils is not even that simple, and the most ideological among you might have just tried taking a whole day off from the internet instead.
Many of the sites you use on a daily basis rely on Amazon’s AWS cloud systems to function, with some estimates placing their market share as high as 40 percent.
Using an AWS-powered web site technically means you’re supporting Amazon.
I am personally okay with this, because that’s the world we’re living in, and I was willing to draw my own line at not buying any items instead of not using almost half of the internet.
But if you want to go all the way, you’ve got to avoid their cloud.
I don’t blame companies for using AWS at all. It’s a reality that most larger web sites will need some kind of Cloud-based back-end infrastructure in order to serve the traffic and feature demands of modern users. AWS, for better or worse, is one of the best providers.
The weirder thing for me was watching my Medium numbers get a dramatic bump.
Around every “Retail Holiday,” I watch the numbers on old headphone reviews shoot through the roof. Prime Day was no different, except the bump was much larger than it has been in the past.
Usually I get about a 33 percent uptick in readership of old reviews, but this time my numbers nearly doubled.
I guess people really want to know about headphones when they’re on sale.
So in this way, I inadvertently helped a number of people to buy things on Amazon while not buying anything on Amazon myself. My net positive boost to Amazon’s numbers was probably massive compared to my own lack of purchases.
I wasn’t the most activist person about this, so I’m not crazy depressed at these results, and I’m not going to sit here and yell about my readers buying stuff.
Do what makes you happy!
But it is an interesting lesson in how connected we all are now, and how deep our simple decisions go.
Just by publishing some thoughts on headphones online, I helped Amazon out. But I also helped out some people who just wanted to buy headphones.
Is that still a net positive?
The world is complicated, and it’s good to take an ideological stand sometimes. But without fully considering the scope of our decisions they can’t be completely effective. Rather than trying to run away from half the internet, perhaps a more direct action would be appropriate if you’re not personally happy with Amazon.
What’s the most effective direct action in a capitalist world? Spending money.
If you need to act, act. Spend money at your local retailers and on non-Amazon services. And remember that you don’t have to change the world by yourself.