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  • Larissa Schwartz

keeping up with bezos

I wandered around my amazing neighborhood last night and when I saw this fire hydrant with the name JONES on it, I was reminded of the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses". The saying is about a hundred years old. If you look it up you'll end up going down a rabbit hole of cartoon strips, conspicuous consumption, old money and Keeping Up With The Kardashians complete with hashtag #KUWTK. I think we're all trying somehow to keep up with the Bezos shopping machine. If Amazon was once an online bookstore, not to be trusted with a credit card in the early part of the 20th century, now it's a massive shopping mall and an idea that faster is necessary, disposable is easier and cheaper is just another click away. Do we really need ten different kinds of everything to choose from?


I always thought the Joneses came from a neighborhood in Great Neck, NY where my mother spent the latter half of her childhood but nope, it's older than the late 1950's. I thought it came from there because it was one of those places where everyone seemed to be trying to outdo each other. Who had the newer Cadillac? My grandmother was incredibly proud of her shiny, new, yellow coupe that sat outside the humongous Tudor house. My family would visit Great Neck two or three times a year for Thanksgiving or Christmas or both. No matter what the mood, everything always looked perfect and we had to make sure to take out shoes off before setting foot onto the plush, cream colored carpet in the sunken living room. It was a scene out of a magazine and messing it up was not an option.


What's the impact of the online world we inhabit now? It gives us our time back if we don't want to go to a physical store. It makes it easy to avoid contact with other people if we despise interacting with cashiers. But is it just a way to make sure everything looks ok on the surface no matter what the cost?


Does Bezos know that the packages shipped to places like Indianapolis get burned in the downtown incinerator because the 14th largest city in the United States recycles less than 7% of the trash? I would hope that the people with the nicest cars and the most money start to pay more attention to the effects of their business models. It's not good enough to be bigger, more profitable with faster shipping. We're messing up the magazine cover and it's hiding in plain sight.

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