The List: Get lost in the Amazon

Andy Downing
The lobby of Amazon's offices in New York

A beacon for deal seekers, Amazon exists in cyberspace. Amazon boasts hundreds of thousands of bargains. Does that seem overwhelming? It should! But mostly in that bone-chilling, “what kind of society are we building here?” kind of way.

First, some background. Amazon is “an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington.” It started in 1994 as an online retailer of books, but now at 25 years old it has expanded to the point where it might even own this site by the time we hit “publish.” Who knows?!

Once you enter Amazon, you’ll be tempted to purchase a Fire Stick 4K (now $34.99, down from a retail price of $49.99). As you scroll down, you’ll find personalized video recommendations (I don’t know what “Carnival Row” is but I’m intrigued!), Whole Food coupon offers and a list of “Essentials delivered fast.” There are also photos inspired by your shopping trends. Running shoes! Neat!

If you can’t navigate a website (like me!), you can simply continue clicking tabs until you're four pages deep on the toothpaste selections, brow feverish and damp with sweat, overcome by confusion and ennui. You may also find a dead end or two. Product out of stock. What!?

Scrolling through these nooks and alcoves can be tiring. Once you’ve added everything to your shopping cart, you can relax at home with a Whole Foods cold-pressed juice, which you purchased using a coupon procured from Amazon. The rest of the work will be done by exhausted warehouse workers trying to minimize pee breaks to increase efficiency and contracted delivery drivers trying desperately not to kill anyone while still hitting company goals.

Amazon is a place for readers, browsers and capitalists that hope to undercut those mom-and-pop retailers that often function as a community’s unwritten life blood. Why, right at this very moment you can purchase the phenomenal new collection of poems from Hanif Abdurraqib, A Fortune for Your Disaster, classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, or even the well-reviewed new release from Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys. Or perhaps you want to get a jump on ordering the new memoir from Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives (out Oct. 8), or maybe uncover a new favorite for your child. It's all right there!

When you leave, they’ll thank you! In the computer language of ones and zeros!