By the time you fight through traffic and arrive at your apartment, your roommate is already a few hours into a Netflix binge. You wanted to tell her what a stressful day you had, but it seems like she’s already doing some ‘self-care.’ Still, you feel compelled to interact with something, anything.
“Alexa, play some relaxing music.”
You sink into your memory foam mattress and think of all the stuff you wish you had, all the little projects you want to start but never get around to because you have neither time nor energy. Maybe if your watercolors weren’t so shitty you’d feel compelled to paint more.
“Alexa, order a new watercolor set.”
“Okay. How about these…?”
Amazon: your every desire fulfilled.
Thankfully, Amazon makes your life simple: click, confirm, problem solved. Amazon will not only remind you of the items you forgot to buy, it will also introduce you to amazing products you didn’t know you wanted yet. They even have a new store in Seattle that’s eliminated the drudgery of waiting in line and the anxiety of making small-talk with cashiers.
But there’s something disconcerting about the simplicity of it all, something suspicious about a company whose business model is to swallow everything. You watched as your favorite local health food store was bought out by Whole Foods, only to watch confusedly as Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon. Then there were the Amazon advertisements where they asked for the keys to our homes, so that packages could be delivered right inside our doors. And when that idea seemed a little too creepy, they tried ease our concerns by offering to install home surveillance cameras that would live-stream directly to their app on our smart-phones.
Amazon prefers to hide its concrete operations – its existence in the real world as a sad string of mega-warehouses and server farms – in order to appear as a benevolent, invisible comfort blanket over our lives. But this year they need a location to open their second headquarters – HQ2 – and the release of the final twenty contending cities has become something like a televised Hunger Games death-match. Local governments and real estate firms are scrambling to volunteer whole districts up to the sacrificial altar, and cities around the country are fighting over who can lobby the most competitive tax cuts or draft the most alluring redevelopment plans to house and transport the 50,000 tech workers HQ2 would bring.
But as Atlanta residents, we see what’s really on the table: wildly inflating rent prices, more congestion on the roads, and soon, delivery drones buzzing over our heads. The influx of thousands of socially insulated techies permanently damaging the cultural vibrancy of the city, as people of color and the working poor are forced outside the perimeter. A few more short-contract and benefit-free ‘jobs’ in stockrooms for those who manage to stay in the city, where workers will be treated like the robots that will soon replace them. The Mayor passing the crown to the CEO-Lord Jeff Bezos, and the Amazonian empire expanding to annex not just the entire Internet, but the neighborhoods and communities that raised us.
The visionaries in the Cloud dream of a world where unskilled labor is replaced by robots, Universal Basic Income keeps the poor at bay, and smart-cities become the live-work-playgrounds of the new rich. From our position on the ground, we see only a nightmare where all data is transparent, all movement is surveilled, and our access to the economy is directly proportional to the amount of personal freedom we’re willing to yield.
Hence, we’d like to make a simple statement, one that we hope you will share: No, we don’t want Amazon here. In fact, we don’t want Amazon anywhere. We believe that Atlantans and all people of good conscience across the country should oppose the HQ2 proposal before the decision is made.
“Alexa? Are you listening…?”
By the time the verdict is announced, it will already be too late.
Today is day 1 of resistance against HQ2