Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Oh, Amazon, you had me at one click. 


And for 16 years, you’ve continued to thrill me with your generosity (whopping discounts on books), eagerness to rush to my side (two-day delivery), and desire to give me what I want without delay (Kindle).


But ever since your holiday season special promotion (discounts for shoppers who found products in stores and then used your Price Check mobile app to order from you instead), people have been telling me I’ve got to dump you, that you’re no good.


But they don’t understand you like I do. Yes, you ruthlessly competed with stores on items like electronics, toys, and sporting goods. But not books. You’d never do that, would you darling?


Books were how you first seduced me. A surprising choice, considering bookstores are the only type of store I love—in fact, they’re the only store I don’t abhor. But you’re a clever Casanovo, Amazon. You knew if you could win my love with books, there’d be no stopping us. 


But even after you graced my life, I continued visiting Brookline Booksmith, a warm, wonderful indie bookstore outside of Boston, the kind of place where people bring their dogs but are considerate enough to keep them on leash. I’d buy paperbacks at Booksmith and additionally order hard covers from irresistible you, a luxury I’d rarely indulged in before. I was building quite the home library and supporting my local indie bookstore and writers! It was a Win! Win! Win!


And then, amazing Amazon, you did something no one else has ever done for me. You made it so I will never have to step foot in a department store or shopping mall ever again


All my life, I’ve despised shopping. Maybe it’s the windowless, florescent, overheated alternate universe of the department store. The funhouse mirrors.The piped-in muzak. The unasked-for assault by the perfume ladies. The secret location of the check-out counter. The long lines once you finally find the check-out counter. 


When I was little, it was the escalators. The pressure to step on at just the right time—it’s not easy! 


Once, when I was four, I was holding my mother’s hand as she coaxed me to step onto the escalator with her. But, in a moment of panic, I pulled free from her grasp and there she went, down, down, down, probably scared to death that I could be snatched away by a stranger in the time it would take her to get back to me. She needn’t have worried, though, because the stranger that came along was a warm, grandmotherly type who stayed with me and comforted me until my mother returned. (Besides, even if a stranger had grabbed me, it can take hours to find the exits in a department store so we surely would have been found). That was the moment I became a shopaphobic.


But for years and years, I bravely put one foot in front of the other (even on an escalator) to go from store to store to store. That is, until you started offering me other goodies in addition to books:  CDs, DVDs, videogames, microwaves, makeup, sneakers, Pop Tarts, dog treats… is there any item beyond your reach? 


You had me right where you wanted me. It wasn’t long before you convinced me to start paying you an extra fee for special services rendered—“free” two-day delivery. I was “prime” for this next step in your seduction strategy.


No more miserable trips to Toys R Us! Or BJs! Or Macy’s! You nearly turned me into a shut-in, like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. But instead of being confined to a wheelchair, staring out the window, helpless to prevent a murder, I was confined to the couch, staring at my computer screen, helpless to keep my fingers still. Under your spell, all I could do was Click!  Click!  Click! 


Still, you weren’t satisfied. And so you presented me with a Kindle. No more squinting at small print. No more waiting an interminable 48 hours for a book when I could get one in ten seconds. No more losing my place in a book. No more lugging around multiple books while on vacation. No more worrying about losing a wireless internet connection… Whispernet to the rescue! 


So, silly boy, if you’re even contemplating applying your Price Check promotion to books, you needn’t do so to entice me. You’ve already turned me into one of those awful people who browse books at the store and then furtively enter the titles into my iPhone Notes so I can run back to you with my order.  Don’t you know I’m utterly devoted to you?


It’s wrong, I know. I hate myself. But, Amazon, I can’t stop falling for you, over and over again.

In her "Vox Pop" column for PopMatters Meta voices her observations about pop culture, particularly as it intersects with our lives. She is endlessly fascinated by the myriad ways in which our pop culture choices reflect back on us -- our beliefs, our desires, our idiosyncrasies, our intellects. Wagner's published pieces include written commentaries, features, and profiles for Salon, Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. You can visit her blog here. When she's not writing, Meta is molding young minds as an adjunct professor at Emerson College, where she teaches creative writing. She also developed and occasionally teaches a column-writing class at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston.


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