Long ago, pre-kids and even pre-better half, I used to be a frequent boycotter. It was easy because there were so many other places to shop and do my business. If the owner of a bodega was rude to me or spoke on his cell-phone instead of asking me which batteries I needed from behind the counter, I’d stop shopping there and go to the place across the street. If the owner of the amazing bakery on Atlantic Avenue ignored me while I stood very patiently listening to his chat with some guy who was a friend and not a customer, I put back my chosen foodstuffs and went to the even more amazing store down the block that sold pretty similar za’atar bread. If the laundromat down the street refused to return my quarters despite the dryer not even pretending to do its job, I hauled my sacks of laundry an extra two blocks to the next one. Inevitably, after a few weeks or months, I’d remember why I had originally chosen the boycotted establishment, and I’d return. Well, not in the case of the bakery, but Sahadi’s was so much better anyway.
You get the idea.
Now, living in the suburbs (or where the suburbs meet the city), it’s a little more difficult. Here, because the car is my new set of feet, it doesn’t make as much of a difference. I’ve been lucky to find a cleaners I love, a pizzeria for the kids, a pizzeria for the grown-ups, a bookstore, a gift shop, and my local pharmacy and USPS locations couldn’t be better. I’ll grant that the main method of choosing was location; it’s possible to walk to all of them within 15-30 minutes.
However, I’m finding ways to still assert my power: on-line. Crazy, right? Listen, the temporary boycott is and always has been about feeling powerful, not truly affecting change. It’s not like I said anything to the bakery owner as I put back my stuff and walked out. I did it so I could feel high-and-mighty about spending cash somewhere else. So how do I do it on-line? I refuse, REFUSE to click on links or articles (can we really call them that most times?) by certain people – both local and national. It makes me feel better. Whether it’s NOT following Charlie Sheen, NOT linking to (or clicking on) links that exploit situations (for some reason Sheen keeps popping up), NOT buying from Amazon but using it for research. It can feel particularly effective when a boycott reaches home.
Here’s an example.
I refuse to click on one particular contributor to a local website – and I take great pleasure in NOT clicking on her story. I won’t give this person the page clicks or encouragement that an extra site view might give. No one will notice but me. Why the heck would I behave to immaturely? Because I can. And because it makes me feel like I’m taking a stand (while remaining seated) against judgment and “mean girls.”
Just before we moved to suburban New Jersey, I was obsessed with finding out as much as I could about goings-on, people, politics, websites that had to do with the area. I came across a personal website from this particular local woman, and the entry she had was a glimpse into the world I was about to enter. I bookmarked it, read it, said, “Wow. Are Nannies really that common around there?” and then continued with real-life preparations and packing. After we moved and settled in, I checked back in to the sites I had bookmarked as “The New Local.” There was another entry from this woman, this time of poems that observed life around my new home. It was so ugly and snippy and judgmental – and barely disguised as to whom it talked about – that I was seriously affected. If people around these here parts truly lived up to the stereotype described in these observations and the on-line persona of the catty-author (who may have been utilizing irony and/or humor that I missed), what the heck had I gotten myself into?
Happily, they don’t. The people I have run into and gotten to know in the year-or-so I’ve been here have been far from the Prada pushing, label dropping, snotty image portrayed in this woman’s website.
So, when I saw that she was showing up as a new contributor to an on-line news magazine that I read daily, I immediately decided I would NEVER click on anything she created. Totally ridiculous and futile as a measure of power, but it made me feel better at the time. Now it’s just an immature habit.
Sounds snotty and catty, right? Well, there you go. What went around came around.