Dear Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s over. You wooed me when I was an overwhelmed new parent. I loved that I could buy baby wipes in my pajamas. I was always just a few clicks away from a CD of lullabies to soothe my cranky baby and a new book to read while he napped.
Jeff, you had me at free shipping.
It was all just too good to be true. Then, you started getting big and mean and controlling. You’ve changed, Jeff, from the humble online book retailer I fell in love with to a ruthless maniac who seeks to control my every purchase and your employees’ every move.
You had to go and buy Zappos, Abe Books, Diapers.com and other competitors. You bought the Washington Post, for crying out loud, and moved to cut reporters’ pensions and health care benefits.
You power Amazon’s servers on dirty energy that’s polluting the air and heating the planet. Facebook and Google are switching to renewables; why can’t you?
You relentlessly encourage me to buy stuff I don’t need, recommending purchases that never even crossed my mind and casually informing me what “other customers have purchased.” That’s insulting, Jeff. Just because some customer in Des Moines bought an Enchanted Fairy Garden Kit doesn’t mean I should.
Your office workers complain of 80-hour workweeks during which they endure so much harsh criticism and so little regard for their personal well-being that they routinely put their heads down on their desks and cry. You boast of the “unreasonably high” expectations you set for your employees as though that’s a good thing, as though ensuring that a customer gets her Swiffer a day faster justifies turning humans into psychotically driven work machines known as “Amabots.”
You turned your warehouse workers into Amabots whose every move you dictate and monitor with a thousand video cameras. You tell them how much time they have to pull each item from the shelf. If they fall behind, you fire them. They have to race from one end to the other of warehouses the size of 16 football fields. They barely have enough time to get to the break room and back and, if they’re late clocking in after their 29 minute and 59 second lunch break, you dock their pay.
I guess that’s why you’re starting to replace them with robots who don’t eat or pee or form unions. By the way, Jeff, I don’t think you’ll be able to replace WashPo reporters with Amabots, in case that’s your plan. Just sayin’!
You’re mean to your workers and mean to small book publishers who get forced into selling at such low prices they can’t even turn a profit. Maybe since you’re the 15th wealthiest person in the world, you don’t care that you’re putting publishers and book stores and other local shops out of business. But I do.
Maybe you think that your wealth will protect you from the ravages of climate change. Maybe you’re building an underground survival bunker, but I somehow don’t think I’m invited.
I was a sucker for cheap, fast and easy. Now, I see that the flipside of cheap, fast and easy is underpaid, exhausting and soul-crushing. The flipside of online convenience is shuttered brick and mortar and runaway climate change.
Sure, I like low prices—what consumer doesn’t? But now that I realize the true cost behind those low prices, I don’t want any part of it.
Oh, Jeff. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. Why does it always have to be all about you? I don’t need a billionaire megalomaniac who only loves me for my credit card number; I need a shopping district that isn’t boarded up. I need a prosperous community where people have jobs and health care. Otherwise, they’re going to keep breaking into my house and stealing all my Amazon purchases. I need a community with a local tax base so that my kid can go to a decent school, and I can stop ruining my tires driving over potholes. I need a livable planet.
The International Trade Union Conference named you the “world’s worst boss” but, oh Jeff, you’re so much more than that. You’re the kingpin of urban blight, the embodiment of capitalist greed, the devil in my ear.
Jeff, I’m over you.
- Read: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace
- Watch: The Story of Change
- Take the Quiz: What Kind of Changemaker are You?
Erica Etelson is a journalist and community activist. She tweets @iluvsolar.