The Problem with Boycotting Amazon

Those of us who sell things on Amazon are in a bit of a quandary these days.

On the one hand, many people quite understandably don’t want to support the great jungle of avarice and arrogance. Since it’s become increasingly clear just how much power giant tech companies like this wield, a lot of people feel that it’s time to start boycotting.

Much as I want to see these companies fall, I’m afraid it’s not that simple.

There are two big problems with boycotting, say, Amazon. The first is that, again, quite a few independent creators rely on Amazon to sell their work. It still has by far the biggest market reach for, say, independent authors. Content creators who refused to use Amazon would be handicapping themselves in an already extremely difficult field. Not that it’s impossible, but practically speaking, it isn’t an option (which is exactly part of the issue, of course).

The other big problem can be expressed by pointing out the fact that, according the numbers I skimmed just now, at the end of 2019 Amazon would have ranked as about the 17th or 18th wealthiest nation in the world.

You read that right: I said nation. Today (after a not-at-all suspect global panic boosted its customer base) it would, conservatively speaking, be about number 14. Between Spain and Australia. Amazon’s net worth, according to some measures, is greater than the GDP of Spain. (source is Macrotrends.net if you want to see for yourself).

Sorry, but it’s much too late for boycotts. You are not going to hurt Amazon by refusing to do business with it. You are not going to convince enough people around the globe to join in your boycott to register as even a blip on their radar.

The people you will hurt are those who rely on Amazon for their livelihood. They are vulnerable to boycotts, Amazon is not.

It sucks. But those are the cards we’ve been dealt.

Now, I’m not trying to say it’s hopeless and you should just give up (I mean, you can if you like, I just wouldn’t recommend it). To avoid being a downer, I’ll give you a few points to consider.

First, you can’t hurt Amazon yet, but you can start to decrease your dependence on them. Keep your eye out for alternatives and cultivate them wherever possible. Broaden your base, in other words.

Second, remember that, while you can’t hurt them, you can benefit from them. For as long as they don’t de-platform you, you can use their power and reach to build your audience, which will be critical if you ever do end up de-platformed. Think of it like the Apostles using the Roman roads built by and for pagan armies to spread the Gospel that would one day turn those armies Christian. As long as they don’t stop you, make use of them.

Finally, we as individuals can’t hurt the likes of Amazon at present. But time is a great ocean with powerful and unseen currents. Its easy enough for something like this to endure one wave, or two, or a hundred. But the waves never stop and the currents never cease. Sooner or later, these tech giants will be worn down and broken. There’s only one ship that can endure the pounding of those waves because it was caulked by the same Hand that rules them. One day, Amazon will become vulnerable, and it will be then that we’ll be able to use whatever resources and influence we’ve managed to plunder from them to ensure that it goes down.

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