A recent conversation about Amazon’s new key function, whereby delivery services can be let into your house to leave a package when you are not there, prompted me to make a folklore analogy—in many ways, this is like inviting the vampire over the threshold. The USA Today article I linked to above even phrases it in a similar way:
“The new service could represent a shift in how consumers think of Amazon. Not just as the source of packages left on their porch, but as an entity they’re comfortable letting into their homes.”
an entity they’re comfortable letting into their homes
Indeed. It’s amazing how folklore and mythology often harbor truths that are applicable to modern life.
For many people, especially millennials, this service makes sense and will be met with open arms. No stolen or wet packages! The convenience! After all, a lot of families have already invited the entity over the threshold by installing Amazon Echo and Dot in their homes, and are used to calling on the genies Siri and Alexa to answer their questions, guide them somewhere, dim their lights, adjust the thermostat, etc. Those genies know everything about what you want..,
But again, folklore comes in handy because genies can be a fickle lot, no?
Many people have watched with growing unease the march of Amazon (and, in some people’s minds, the other 3 horsemen of the apocalypse, Google, Apple and Facebook) towards utterly ruling over everything in our lives. And how easy it has been, all in the name of “convenience”. People accept the soundbite refrains without a second thought. “I can’t keep in touch with people without Facebook.” “Google’s search engine is the best” “Amazon is the cheapest, the most convenient, and has everything”.
One shouldn’t be surprised when, after inviting the vampire over the doorstep, one is completely drained dry. I’m not talking about the individual delivery people who will put your package safely inside your door. I am talking about the entity that has convinced you this is a normal, safe thing. The entity that has collected reams of information about you, that manipulates your shopping habits, that categorizes you and stores all of that knowledge somewhere you don’t even know or have access to, and for use by people you don’t know or generally have access to.
To live in this modern world, one has to make concessions and drive bargains that seem ever more costly. It seems it’s no longer “Will I let the vampire in or not”, but “which vampires will I let in?”.