I would like to make a few requests:
- If I say I don’t to shop somewhere because they did something I don’t agree with, please quit telling me about how the place I chose to shop instead is also a dumpster fire.
- If I say I’m going to spend money with a certain company because they did something I do agree with, please quit telling me about how that company also did a bunch of crappy stuff too.
In our country, many corporations are too big to be “good” in any pure or thorough way. And honestly? It goes for individuals too. Whether you’re Bill Gates or Google, you do not acquire that much wealth or power without stepping on smaller people on the way up or relying on oppressive systems to keep you up. I’m no idiot. And I feel safe in saying that most people spending money in this country know that no big name is 100% good or 100% evil. I also feel comfortable in saying we all know that the cheaper a product is, the more people were probably harmed in making it.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy at support of progressive policies by companies we like or thrilled by big donations of cash by wealthy individuals to charities we support. And on the other side of the spectrum, It also doesn’t mean I can’t pick and choose where to buy my chicken sandwiches based on knowledge of actions I do NOT support. I can reflect on single actions a company has taken and spend money accordingly and still know deep in my heart it’s all bullshit.
You know what else? I can also have (dumb and pointless) thoughts about how to spend my money with giant corporations while also being an educated voter so I can elect people who will hopefully make policy changes that matter. I can do BOTH. Don’t assume that me choosing to shop in one store because of one donation they made to Planned Parenthood is the ONLY thing I do relating to politics in this country. I know that how I vote matters more than where I shop. I promise you I know that.
We used to not buy Nike because Donnie was so disappointed with Michael Vick. Now we buy Nike because we love their support of Colin Kaepernick. But please know, we are not idiots. We know all big corporations have done something we don’t like, and when they do something we do like it’s only because they think it will make them money. But jeez, it’s hard to not get discouraged by that so sometimes, so when someone does something we support we are happy to finally have something positive to think about when we spend our money there.
Yes. That restaurant with the CEO who likes to hunt Elephants does some amazing charitable stuff and Nike products are made in sweatshops. But we have created this economy where everywhere we turn there are giant corporations that are not going to fail OR succeed based on any decision I make with my $15. And that’s depressing. So, if I can support some companies for some positive policies or avoid other companies because of their negative policies and I can pretend for five seconds that my $15 matters to them, PLEASE LET ME BE.
We all know that Chic-fil-A is not going to fail because I don’t eat breakfast there any more. We all know that Starbucks offering extra benefits to transgender employees is a business decision, not a moral one. This economy is depressing. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer and we are all just cogs in a giant machine and so if for 5 minutes I want to pretend that spending $5 at Starbucks is going to deliver an important message of support, you don’t need to remind me of the cases of age discrimination that people have raised against the company. It was really hard to avoid buy Nike because my kids love their stuff and it’s often on great sale at Dick’s so if I can finally buy them what they want and smile a bit at the Kaepernick campaign while I do it, then please let me have that.
None of us criticizing or supporting big corporations really believe that we have any control over their business practices or decisions. Most of us don’t have the income to buy everything local and ethically made and ethically sourced. And we definitely don’t have the time to research which giant corporation is worse. So if sometimes I spend money with big companies and try to think about the good things they’ve done, or if I avoid other companies because of the bad things they’ve done, it’s really just me temporarily living under the delusion that my money matters and please understand that I also know with a much bigger part of my heart that no one in these boardrooms gives two flying craps about what kind of soccer cleats I buy my kids.
I shop local when I can. I buy ethically sourced when I can. I vote in every election and I call my elected officials when I have opinions about legislation in front of them. And the rest of the time I just try to use my voice to remind companies I’m here because it makes me feel like I have power, even though I know it’s just whispers in the wind to them.