Moving to Freedom, .Org

Amazorg… Borgazon…

I’m trying to suggest Amazon and the Borg, get it? (I know. They don’t really work.)

I was going to write about being assimilated. How I’ve been buying stuff from Amazon for fifteen years, starting in 1997. Mostly books, the first few years, but now I’m all in. Books, music, videos, Kindles, ebooks, and with Amazon Prime the past few months, more and more and more.

I would have written that I like Amazon, and that I’ve been surprised at how much I like Prime.

And there would have been a point to make about how I’m also contributing to a problem, by fueling the growth of a menace, especially if I start getting more into ebooks and other “protected content,” but…


I’m feeling too lazy to examine my thoughts on all that.

That post might have been an introduction to a series of blatantly promotional posts. Not self-promotional, like the standard fare around here — although there’d be that, too, of course — but product promotions. Not sponsored posts. Just some stuff I think is cool and would tell you about, and use Amazon Affiliate links so that if you bought from Amazon through my links, I’d get a little kickback. That would be neat. I like making money. I could have some fun with these posts, and try to entertain you while being incredibly persuasive.

This in spite of the Kevin Kelleher post I’ve had on my mind, “Facebook’s Timeline: A catalog of nothing,” this part in particular:

Timeline clearly isn’t working for the majority of Facebook users, although in the end it may not matter. Many will grow inured to it in time, as they have with all of the other controversial changes the company has introduced over the years.

And even now the broad dissatisfaction doesn’t matter to Facebook, its partners and its advertisers, which are the true beneficiaries of Timeline. Forget all of Mark Zuckerberg’s high-minded rhetoric about social missions and the Hacker Way, Facebook’s true mission is to train its users to consume conspicuously and, in doing so, turn friendships into marketing venues.

I don’t really have an opinion about Timeline, but the conspicuous consumption remark struck me. It stopped me from writing — on Facebook — about one of my Amazon Prime purchases last week.

It’s not that I’m renouncing my consumer ways, mind you. I’m just hesitating for a moment.

And it’s not that I’m especially concerned about how Facebook and its partners might be training us to be a certain way. People like (like!) saying, “Look at me! Look at what I got!” We don’t need to be trained for that; it’s built-in. I’m not even offended that someone’s trying to make a buck off of it.

So what is my problem, then?

Maybe it’s just vague, middle-age malaise.

Standard existential questions.

Why are we here?

To buy things and then die? Is that all this is? (Setting aside for the moment minor things like food and sex and Arrested Development reruns.)

I like stuff, but I also get tired of stuff. Of owning things, especially bigger things that cause worry and stress and cost time and money to maintain. All the work you have to do to pay for the stuff, much of which you don’t really need or want. Even little things get to be a burden. (Except not yet that thing I just bought. I’m still enjoying that.)

Maybe I am disconcerted about being reduced to a marketing vector on Facebook. (And Google, and etcetera.)

Maybe I’m tired of me, me, me, and stuff, stuff, stuff.

But if not stuff, what is there?

Love? Maybe, if that’s not just another sales gimmick.

Art? Is that another thing for sale?

Dissatisfaction. Can’t get no satisfaction…


We’ve been trained.

We need something. We need more.

More and More and More

I’m still feeling lazy, so I’m going to add a soundtrack to this post, to help say more (!) than I can say myself. Or more than I’m willing to say. Or just to add another sensory dimension. And because I like this artist and I want to sell him to you. And because it seemed exactly right for this post, even if I’m awkwardly glomming it on at the end here. (Ha! It will be assimilated. Like with the Borg, get it?)

This is one of my favorite Ryan Montbleau songs. (You may have noticed how it was cleverly foreshadowed earlier in the post.) I first heard it live at The Cedar here in Minneapolis, and look! The first 90 seconds of that performance is on YouTube. (Ah, YouTube, another source of bounty and exploitation.)

Here’s a different performance of the whole song, along with some opening banter and background on it:

It starts:

Should I go to the CVS
     or to Sir Walgreen’s store
Walk down the aisles again,
     try to recall what for
With their 50 kinds of toothpaste,
     and their 40 kinds of soap
Oh, it surely would seem to me,
     I only need one that’s good
But with another 50 choices
     comes another hundred voices in my head
No great angels, no big devils,
     just another hundred levels to contend with

And ends:

I found everything I ever wanted
     and it opened up a door
I took one half a look around,
     there were half a million more
I found everything I ever needed
     and more and more and more
Take the old stuff out to be burned,
     I don’t need it anymore
That ain’t my style now, no
     I’ve found one great big store
And it’s got everything I need
I’ll find more things to make me me
Until the day that I am gone
Should I go for the red headstone,
     should I go for the gray carved granite
Should I go for the silk lined box
     or for the straight pine basket
Should I wear my finest black suit,
     should I hold one single rose
Should I try to take with me
     all of the things I chose

And that’s all I need. I don’t want to say any more after that.