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Paige FTW: Amazonian Ethics

I spent much of Prime Day this year with my heart set on a Nintendo Switch. I waited, patiently, for a deal to pop up. Eventually, one did: a regular-price Nintendo Switch that came with added bonuses of a 64 GB SD card and $20 in Nintendo eShop credit. That was deal enough for me.

Of course, anyone who did try buying anything on Prime Day knows well that Amazon severely underestimated demand, once again — the site crashed constantly (I couldn’t search for anything all day), and it was only after five aborted attempts that I was able to shove my Switch purchase through.

Corporations like Amazon now dominate our daily lives. As I browse through the sales roundups, there was no shortage of articles speaking out against Amazon’s unfair business practices, struggling workers and downsides to this day of commerce. Sometimes the cognitive dissonance was especially amusing: “Why I’m Not Streaming On Twitch Today,” wrote Kotaku writer Heather Alexandra, saying that she was acting in protest against Amazon’s unethical actions — one post in a sea of many gleefully extolling “The Best Prime Day Deals of 2018 [Updating].”

Perhaps, I thought, I should not have bought my Switch from Amazon, good deal or no. But where, then, would I go? Walmart? Best Buy? Target? Which corporation should I give my dollars to? Where are the mom-and-pop game shops to support? Which corporation is really ethical, when it comes down to it?

How can we live more ethical lives when the very structure of our day-to-day existence is governed by behemoth giants like Google and Amazon?

You can make the choice not to use those services or support their businesses, sure. And yet their reach is so labyrinthine. How many websites use Amazon Web Services? Can you boycott them all? That doesn’t even touch on the financial realities: Can you afford to pick the better option?

I don’t know. I don’t have easy answers in this column. I only have a Nintendo Switch, gleaming in its complicity.

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