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Opinion Editorials

Do or die: there’s a store monopoly and Amazon’s the only option left?

(EDITORIAL) The monopoly is growing and competition is fierce, but we should be careful what we wish for – would this monopolistic world really work out to our advantage?

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It’s a mad world

Convenience is great. Choices are even better.

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Unfortunately, we’re creatures of convenience. But what if there weren’t choices and Amazon is our only option?
Let’s say you wake up one day and your local grocer’s, Target, Wal-Mart, and every other similar brick-and-mortar store had closed their gates for good. Maybe you’re thinking, “Who cares? Those guys are over-priced and suck anyway.”

Hold on now; think about it.

The things we take for granted

It’s an oddly satisfying feeling when you can tour a nearby everything-in-one-place joint like Target, find the thing you were looking for, and beeline toward Guest Services and ask (throwing a sheepish grin of utmost innocence and sincerity), “You guys do price matching, right?”

After the transaction is complete, you walk away with a slightly smug sense of self-satisfaction that you beat the system.

You did get to cut the rest of the normal lines, after all. It was worth it to price check the local shops along with mega e-commerce giants like Amazon, EBay, and the like.

You compared and calculated which retailer offered the most bang for your buck, which granted you the use of coupons, and which scored you the most points/rewards, and then ultimately: which spared you the least amount of hassle possible.

Careful what you wish for

Many would prefer the less-hassley-route, especially if said route has a number of different delivery options to choose from, caters to your every whim, and included a special bonus for introverts: no need to leave the house or have an awkward social interaction with someone in your head over and over again.

And this is how they get you.

The immediate impact of all brick-and-mortar businesses closing down would be the massive amount of job loss.

I’ve worked retail and I’ve slung my share of lattes and when you have little experience in anything else, the job-world can be a terrifying place.

Earlier this year Amazon announced that they would be adding 100,000 jobs despite the crumble of many brick-and-mortar locations (yay jobs!).

But does this offset the loss?

Transitional issues arise

In this hypothetical situation in which Amazon is our only option, hordes of people would be affiliated with Amazon in some way or another: whether as a delivery person, warehouse worker handling packing and shipping, software developer, or PR person; Amazon would naturally expand to include more Amabots (term used to describe someone who has drank the Kool-Aid) under their regime.

Even with the foresight of “destruction-by-Amazon,” many companies would not, or not be able to, financially support the re-training of individuals that may be impacted by such an event.

And what of the shade thrown at Amazon’s treatment of its employees?

Does the person working the cash register at a grocery store typically have on-hand the skillset needed to carry over into warehouse worker or driver roles? Maybe we’ll expect a rise in low pay high labor work or an increase in cardboard sign-carrying cup-jinglers at intersections.

Black market jobs and industries will begin to cultivate.

Devices needed in order to access Amazon will become a hot commodity because let’s face it, not everyone is connected to the Internet of Things.

As a result, internet cafes will also become more commonplace for those that don’t have access, because how else are you going to restock the toilet paper?

Marking their territory

In this brave new world, Amazon will undoubtedly expand to cover any remaining territories.

Take into consideration one of Amazon’s target goals: to deliver product to the consumer as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To do this will require the development of new distribution centers in order to be closer and readily available to a broader audience’s location in order to meet promises of same day delivery.

After all, this is now our only method of obtaining groceries and goods. With ghost towns of malls and grocery stores becoming more commonplace, available retail space is now prime for the taking.

This includes services such as Same Day, Prime Now, Amazon Restaurants, and Prime Pantry – all of which are available through Amazon Prime memberships exclusively.

As Amazon is now the chief-supplier of most goods and services with no immediate or accessible competition, they are free to charge whatever they want, whenever they want.

With a monopoly like this, one could hope that the increase in revenue might go toward a “greater good” such as new and innovative technologies for the benefit of humankind.

While wishful thinking for those affected, where’s the incentive for such a powerhouse?

Why should they?

Forced resourcefulness

So while Amazon is rapidly expanding as a company and as an icon, I don’t think we’ll quite run into Mad Max-levels of dystopian destituteness, but it certainly feels like we’re on the way.

First, things like proxy services, privacy-specialized toolbars, and special barrios of the internet where you can buy and sell just about anything you want will become much more widely accessible. Everyone will learn real quick how to grow gardens or care for chickens when their only option is to have food delivered.

Those living in rural areas who rely on the weekly drive up to town to go to Wal-Mart will likely struggle the most.

Aside from this, we’d have very little reason to leave the house.

I mean Amazon is basically already trying to get us accustomed to the “just a touch of a button away” approach with their Amazon Dash doo-dads. They want us to sit on our butts, totally reliant on them.

So no longer can we (or should we, really) blow our paychecks on Moonpies and whistles, but instead must make intelligent, strategic choices about the things we buy, how much, and when. Glob knows when there’s a sudden price hike on “X” item for some finite amount of time.

Or what of availability of goods? If Amazon doesn’t have it, no one does.

Because of these uncertainties, perhaps we’re more inclined to hit up our neighbor, friend, or family member for a cup of sugar, pain reliever, or a clean pair of socks?

Maybe we rally together in communal boycott of our expected reliance on the system and find ways to look for loopholes to take advantage of in order to stay afloat.

No hate

I love Amazon, I really do, but it’s only because I have them to compare to other things. I’d like to not see them become LexCorp, but in this hypothetical it’s worth considering how drastically different our way of living would become if they did have a monopoly on the market.

#therecanonlybeone

Ashe Segovia is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Southwestern University. A huge film nerd with a passion for acting and 80's movies and synthpop; the pop-cultural references are never-ending.

Opinion Editorials

You already blew your new year’s resolutions, but it’s not your fault

(EDITORIAL) Your new year’s resolutions are already making you feel like a failure. The whole process is flawed – let me tell you why it’s not your fault (yet).

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It’s estimated that only about 8.0 percent of people keep their new year’s resolutions. Most fail by the end of January, and here we are – almost at the end of the month. But it’s not your fault (yet) – let’s discuss.

Face it, you’re doomed before you ever get started. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, if you don’t approach it the right way, you’ll never reach it. If you really want to change your life in 2019, you’re going to have to get serious.

Here’s my innovative approach. Stop making resolutions.

Making new year’s resolutions sounds good in theory. But they’re really problematic. New year’s resolutions often don’t take into account what is realistic. Resolutions don’t let you adjust when life gets in the way. You’re setting yourself up for failure when you make resolutions. You may have good intentions, but you know you’ll fall back into your old habits.

What’s the solution?

A resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” Changing your behavior isn’t that easy. Psychology Today offers eight different reasons why it’s so difficult to make long-term sustained change.

The all-or-nothing thinking of resolutions traps you into a no-win situation.

To really make change, you’re going to have to approach it differently. Resolutions tend to come from negative emotions. Real change comes from place of self-edification. Resolutions tend to be sweeping changes. You determine to completely change your lifestyle. Small habits are easier to implement. Over time, those small changes can become big changes.

Setting goals is good. Breaking down your goals into bite-sized pieces helps you reach those goals. Want to lose weight? Instead of jumping in and throwing out all the sugar in your cupboards, work with a dietician for a month to see where you can make changes to your meals that fit your lifestyle.

Failure is a given.

Know that you’re going to mess up. Failure is part of the process. It helps you learn where to put your attention and energy. Coming home late and eating a pizza instead of something healthier isn’t a reason to stop trying to lose weight. It just means that you need to think about the reasons that caused you to blow your diet. Was it lack a planning? Did you just need comfort food? Was it just convenient? Look back at why you indulged to meet the challenge next time.

Give yourself a break.

Change isn’t easy. Don’t keep kicking yourself when you don’t hit your goals. Consider what’s keeping you back. Maybe the goals aren’t a priority right now. Maybe you’re taking on too much. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe you have other commitments that need your resources.

Make 2019 your best year by not setting resolutions, but by making small changes in your life.

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Opinion Editorials

Do women that downplay their gender get ahead faster?

(OPINION) A new study about gender in the workplace is being perceived differently than we are viewing it – let’s discuss.

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The Harvard Business Review reports that women benefit professionally when they downplay their gender, as opposed to trying to focus on their “differences” as professional strength.

The article includes a lot of interesting concepts underneath its click-bait-y title. According to the study by Professors Ashley Martin and Katherine Phillips, women felt increasingly confident when they pivoted from focusing on highlighting potential differences in their perceived abilities based on their gender and instead gave their attention to cultivating qualities that are traditionally coded as male*.

Does this really mean that women need to “downplay” their gender? Does it really mean women who attempt this get ahead in this world faster?

I don’t think so.

The article seems to imply that “celebrating diversity” in workers is akin to giving femme-identified employees a hot pink briefcase – it actually calls attention to stereotyped behaviors. I would argue that this is not the case (and, for the record, rock a hot pink briefcase if you want to, that sounds pretty badass).

I believe that we should instead highlight the fact that this study shows the benefits that come when everyone expands preconceived notions of gender.

Dr. Martin and her interviewer touch on this when they discuss the difference between gender “awareness” and “blindness.” As Dr. Martin explains, “Gender blindness doesn’t mean that women should act more like men; it diminishes the idea that certain qualities are associated with men and women.”

It is the paradox of studies like this one that, in order to interrogate how noxious gendered beliefs are, researchers must create categories to place otherwise gender-neutral qualities and actions in, thus emphasizing the sort of stereotypes being investigated. Regardless, there is a silver lining here as said by Dr. Martin herself:

“[People] are not naturally better suited to different roles, and [people] aren’t better or worse at certain things.”

Regardless of a worker’s gender identity, they are capable of excelling at whatever their skills and talent help them to.

*Though the HBR article and study perpetuate a binary gender structure, for the purposes of our discussion in this article, I expand its “diversity” to include femme-identified individuals, nonbinary and trans workers, and anybody else that does not benefit from traditional notions of power that place cisgendered men at the top of the social totem pole.

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Opinion Editorials

Why I paused my career to raise our child

(OPINION) Our children are like tiny little sponges that absorb everything that we give them — your job and the sentiments it produces and evokes included.

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I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom. Not in a million years did I think I’d find myself choosing to press pause on my career, but here I am, a mother for just nine months, doing just that.

HBR recently published an article about how our careers impact our children focusing on parental values and the emotional toll of our career involvement on our families. It got me thinking about my own childhood.

Growing up, my parents’ discussion of work was almost always negative. A job was something you had to do whether you liked it or not. As a child, I listened to my parents fight over money; I observed them in constant worry about the future. I watched them stress over unsatisfying jobs.

There was never any room for risk, no money to invest in a new career path, and no financial cushion to fall back on to give a new career time to grow.

Later, when choosing a path of my own, I would often wonder what my parents had wanted to be or who they could’ve been if they would’ve been able to choose careers they might’ve thrived in. All I ever knew is that my parents hated their jobs. While they’re on better financial footing now, the residue of their negativity persists in the career choices of their children.

While I was pregnant, I was working at an international tech startup in Silicon Valley. The company suffered from poor leadership; the week I was hired, my team quit and I was left to piece together a position for myself. The company continued to flounder, its culture unable to recover from interim toxic leadership.

I constantly worried about my son and the stress of a toxic culture on my pregnancy. Going into the office made me anxious. Leaving left me feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Instead of imagining a bright, beautiful baby boy, I closed my eyes and saw a dark and anxious bundle of nerves. Of course, I blamed myself for everything.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I promised my baby that when he arrived, I would do things differently. This would be the last time I accepted a job that I only felt lukewarm about. Never again would I participate in a culture that could diminish my talents and self-worth. I’d seen this kind of thing during my childhood and I’d be damned to repeat it.

During my career, I’ve watched coworkers hire full time live-in nannies, missing their baby’s developmental milestones and their children’s school events. I listened as one CMO talked about moving into his backyard yurt when the pains of parenthood became too much for him. He left his three preteen sons alone to fend for themselves in the mansion they shared in Silicon Valley.

We pride ourselves on the amount of work we put into our careers, but we rarely measure our success through the eyes of our children.

Children are mimics, they absorb everything we do, even during infancy. So, what are we offering them when we abandon them to make conference calls from yurts? What message are we sending them when our eyes are glued to texts, emails and push notifications? What are we teaching them when we come home stressed out, energy depleted and our values compromised?

We try “disrupting” anything these days so what about the working parent model? Would it be worth it?

My husband and I decided that it was and we’re doing things differently.

My husband works in the service industry. He doesn’t leave for work until late in the afternoon which means he spends all day with our son. At nine months old, my son has a strong emotional relationship with his father.

I carve out time during my days and nights to schedule writing work. I’ve recently returned to freelancing and I find that when I’m working with clients I believe in and doing work that I enjoy, we’re all much happier.

Everyone who’s ever had children says the first year goes by incredibly quickly. It’s true. My career will be there next year and for years after that. My son is only a baby once and I wouldn’t miss it for all the money in the world.

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