Modern slaveries

This weekend The New York Times published an incendiary article about work culture at Amazon. It wasn’t much of a surprise, really: anyone who has read “The Everything Store”, by Brad Stone, already knew what can you find inside Amazon. Those horror aren’t new, but when several former employees showed their hands and some as the NYT share that stories the  dimension changes. Someone I know made a quick summary in Twitter about that article: A

Amazon: work ’til death and if you have personal problems, fuck yourself

This message was one amongst several ones these days. There were others such as the post at The Next Web in which the editor decided to stop buying things at Amazon considering how that company care about its employees. Praiseworthy and a good way to let Amazon know what we think… if everyone does the exact same thing. Seems complicated.

Not everyone criticized Amazon, of course. An intermediate boss shared his own story about those facts and made it clear that he hadn’t seen any of the things told in the NYT’s article. Another employee joined that crusade with a similar opinion, and that led to the final answer by Mr. Bezos himself. Amazon’s founder published a letter to his Amazonian with a discourse that could have been told by any benevolent dictator. He denied everything, he said that  “the article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know” and he proclaimed himself as a fighter against injustice. C’mon, Jeff. Some of us know how Amazon has succeeded the way it has, we know about some negotiating tactics your people use thanks to Amazon’s leverage, and we know how many people has left the company in questionable terms.

Amazon is difficult if not impossible to beat on its customer service, but almost everything I’ve read from them that speaks about it within doors leaves the company in a difficult position. Even knowing that there is people that lives to work, what is happening at Amazon is almost absurd. There was a debate at Hacker News and the summary is clear: where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

That weird kind of modern slavery is nonsense. No one is going to remember you for your hard work you did at certain company. Nonsense. Not unless -and even in that case, maybe- you’re the founder of that company. It’s good to work hard, to succeed, to get your goals, to get a better life for you and your family, but it’s abundantly clear to me that living to work is not a good idea.

I may show my hand here, but I’ve known for a while that my family quality of life is above everything else. The demonstration came a few years ago, and the change for me (job, home) has been like night and day. I’ve learned my lesson in case a similar situation affects me and my family again.

I don’t know anyone -anyone- who regrets not having worked enough in his life. Quite the opposite. I remember reading an article in The Mirror in which a nurse that had taken care of elder people told the story of the things they regretted the most in their lives. Most of them regretted working too hard. Not enjoying life enough. And we’ve got only one life. You know about this: seize the time, carpe diem… everything we say to realize that every moment is precious and that we are probably wasting it while we shout, fight, regret, fear or worry about something.

Or while we work at Amazon. Too bad.

Javier Pastor is a technology journalist that has been writing about tech since 1999. He started writing for PC Actual in Spain, the leading printed magazine in the country, and in 2006 started to write online. First as the Chief Editor for The Inquirer ES, and after that for MuyComputer until 2013. That year he became senior editor at Xataka, the leading tech news website in Spanish with over 5M uniques/month (Aug'15, comScore). Xataka is part of Weblogs SL, a blog network that gets over 40M uniques/month and that has a wide catalog of publications in Spanish. The Unshut is his new venture and allows him to express his opinions and thoughts on everything touched by technology, and follows what he has been doing at Incognitosis, his personal blog, since 2005.