May 272015
 

yikyakSo, for my latest sociological peek into something not intended for me but about which I was curious—see also AshleyMadison.com—I’m fresh off having a week-long look at Yik Yak. It’s an anonymous social network on which you “yak” and reply to everyone who’s paying attention within a 10-mile radius about whatever’s on your mind (in 200 characters or less). Users upvote and downvote yaks and replies, and anything that gets to -5 gets deleted.

Yik Yak is intended for and primarily used by college students, so right as classes get out for the summer might not have been the best time for this experiment. However, there seem to be enough folks around—summer class attendees, kids home from elsewhere—to give me a flavor of it. Right now, ’round these parts, there are two or three dozen new posts daily.

My capsule impression of my admittedly limited view is that nearly nothing of any consequence whatsoever happens on Yik Yak. A good, solid two-thirds of what I saw fell into one of these categories:

  • I’m bored
  • I’m hungry
  • Finals suck
  • Life is so unfair

On that last bullet, I saw more than one regretful lament about not talking to him/her, of the sort I wrote about earlier this year. There was attendant encouragement to take those opportunities when they present, so that’s a good thing. For a lot of the rest of it: sheesh, at the melodrama. It seems a lot of people this age look at their lives in absolutes. My life is a total tragedy. I’ve ruined the best thing that ever happened to me. Things will never get any better.

I don’t really remember my generation carrying on like that to a significant degree, but I’m sure we did. Consequently, it’s probably reasonable for me to expect to see it in our boys, too. It’s easy to look at these young people now, from 20 to 25 years ahead of where they are, and see how objectively ridiculous a lot of their concerns are. It’s easy to see that they’re just the loveliest, brightest, most engaging people who just haven’t cultivated any patience or perspective whatsoever yet.

That’s also, in some ways, most unhelpful. After all, “your concerns are objectively ridiculous” isn’t a particularly comforting thing to hear unvarnished, even if it’s true. It’ll behoove me to remember that when I’m in position to offer solace at my house.

What else did I see? An occasional “I’m horny.” A bitch about road construction. Etc. The only other thing that sticks with me is how skittish everyone was about any sort of gender/race identification. I never saw anything offensive, but people just didn’t want to hear about any of it at all. A reply identifying a server as a “Hispanic girl” was quickly downvoted to the memory hole. Ditto saying a place had a “lesbian vibe”—and that was a reply to a post asking about gay bars! Wow. I hope we’re just about to a tipping point on all of this hyper-offense. I was reminded of Jay Leno being called “kind of racist” for saying “I don’t really like Mexican” to a kid who was running out for lunch.

I could see Yik Yak being really cool in a large crowd where something interesting was happening and a lot of people were actively using it. I didn’t see much except people breathing at each other. Maybe I’ll take another look when fall classes gather.

 Posted by at 7:31 am
May 232015
 

amazonI first ordered from Amazon.com in 1999. I’ve done it about 700 times total. That’s nearly weekly for 16 years.

I’m a longtime Amazon Prime member. I have an Echo, a Fire Phone, and four Fire tablets in the house. Best I can tell, I’m maybe two years out from reaching six figures spent with Amazon.com.

I’m a big fan.

And the reason is simple: Amazon.com has never let me down. Not once. I’m amazed that an operation so large can perform so consistently well for me, delivering exactly what I ask for over and over. On the rare occasion that I’ve had an issue, I’ve always been made whole, cheerfully and efficiently.

I praised Amazon.com recently on a ZDNet.com thread, and got some static from a guy about Amazon.com banning customers. I’d never heard of that before, but yeah, it’s a thing. The language in the email varies a little, likely based on the responding Amazon.com employee, but this is how it reads:

Hello from Amazon.com.

A careful review of your account indicates you’ve experienced an extraordinary number of incidents with your orders and corresponding shipments.

In the normal course of business, the occasional problem is inevitable. The rate at which such problems have occurred on your account is extraordinary, however, and cannot continue. Effective immediately, your Amazon.com account is closed and you are no longer able to shop in our store.

Please know that any accounts related to yours have also been closed. If you were to open a new account, the same will result and it will also be closed. In the event that you attempt to do so, we will not accept the return of any additional orders, nor will we issue further refunds in connection with any future orders. We appreciate your cooperation in refraining from using our web site.

If you require additional assistance, or have any concerns, feel free to contact us directly at cis@amazon.com.

Please do not contact regular Customer Service again, as they will no longer be able to assist you.

Best regards,

Account Specialist
Amazon.com

This seems to be the more common scenario. There are also people getting banned for ordering high-demand items, such as new video game systems, using multiple sock puppet accounts to skirt quantity limits. The email address in that case is qla@amazon.com.

It’s hardcore, too. If this happens to you, you can work it up the chain and plead your case till the cows come home and Amazon.com won’t back up a millimeter. This is no mere shot across the bow. You’re nuked, buddy.

Needless to say, people are unhappy about it when it happens to them. Goodness knows, I would be. Amazon.com has been a standard play for me for more than a third of my life. If they broke up with me, then yeah, I’d have a lot of retooling to do.

Now the precise criteria for triggering this action are unknown, but presumably there is a computer algorithm that decides you are consistently unprofitable and likely to continue to be so. Get over that line, and adios.

What’s prompted me to dedicate a post to this is how irrational people get concerning how they think Amazon.com should or shouldn’t behave. A corporation tries to act in its own best interest. Folks get up on plane talking about turning away loyal customers and what-not, but that’s exactly the point. In these cases, Amazon.com has decided that losing a customer, plus all of the associated potential bad PR, is still worth it compared to keeping that customer.

You can be certain they did not do so lightly.

I am happy with Amazon.com. Presumably, Amazon.com is happy with me. But I have no illusion it’s for any other reason than that I’m profitable. Amazon.com doesn’t think I’m cute or charming. We’re not BFFs. We’re in a mutually beneficial business relationship.

To me, it’s the same thing as people being outraged that “General Electric paid no income tax last year!” or whatever. If there’s a path through the tax law that enables such, then GE has a responsibility to find it. GE does what’s good for GE. Amazon.com does what’s good for Amazon.com.

Surprise at such is woefully naive.

 Posted by at 12:01 am
May 132015
 

“My name is Lucifer! Please take my hand!” So sang Ronnie James Dio as I dug Black Sabbath’s Live Evil on my commute recently. I got to thinking about the anti-rock crusaders of my childhood railing against the devil in heavy metal music, and considered that a Black Sabbath album was a place that you […]

 Posted by at 9:45 am
Apr 212015
 

So it seems like it wasn’t so long ago—like, a month or two—that Hillary was lying low. “Huddling with advisors,” “working on her message,” and considering “how to reintroduce herself” were common phrases. My response, and that of many others, was along the lines of “this is a person who’s been in continuous national sight […]

 Posted by at 7:40 am

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