Dance, I Said — Dance! And Leave the Package on the Porch.

How did we get here? All of this sounds like the inevitable growth of Amazon’s ever-expanding product suite. Install its motion-activated ring doorbell and it will become your stop stage; Sign up for its Amazon Prime service, and you’ll get an endless stream of players. Amazon encourages consumers to share their ring video on its security-minded social network, Neighbors, and also makes it easier to share it more widely. One of the ring’s marketing lines is “a lot happens at your front door,” and this means both warnings and invitations – although it indicates that venturing out is very risky, it also indicates that the whole world of entertainment is under your surveillance. Can be detected by examining the feed.

Like the hyperlocal crime app Citizen, Neighbors reinforces the perception that the ring’s technological fortress is needed, with local crime reports around the home address and nearby surveillance videos in the user’s excitement emergency map. At the same time, he wants to masquerade as a neighboring device. The official ring is full of user-generated videos from YouTube channels that help inject its growing spy network with warmth and amazement, as the camera captures self-sufficiency caught in harsh conditions such as good summers, grazing cows and, of course, company drivers. In this December entry: “Not even a giant bear will stop this Amazon driver from delivering it.” Amazon passionately surveys its employees through dashcams, smartphone monitors and machine-generated report cards, and the video engages the customer in a maneuver that turns a driver’s privacy violation into a form of Internet-wide competition. The caption for Amazon’s Bear video focuses on the heroic actions of a ring user named Josh, who helped protect the delivery driver by “seeing him out all the time” in the security camera.

As Amazon creates a new style, it is improving the pop-cultural figure of the delivery person, who has long been cast as a favorite player in American life. The fictional postal worker, portrayed by Cliff in “Cheers” and Newman in “Seinfeld”, is a slightly pathetic character who seeks honor he never received. But the UPS guy (he, with some notable exceptions, is portrayed as masculine) cuts out the more respectable figure. In “The King of Queens”, in which Kevin James’ character works for the mildly fictional “IPS”, he is a funny everybody with a charming and beautiful wife. Elsewhere – “Legally Blonde” and in the 2019 New York Post profile “Hot UPS Delivery Man Driving Women Crazy in NYC” – he has been promoted to Hunk Status. He lifts heavy objects and wears uniforms; In the summer, those uniforms include shorts. In any case, it is a familiar presence, someone who appears in your office or apartment to deliver something special on a regular schedule and perhaps extends a long way to collect signatures. MedTV’s character, Jack the “UBS” person, was actually too familiar – customers could never leave him.

Amazon has killed that particular fantasy. Its routes are often served by unscrupulous gig workers, its quotas severely punished for allowing socialization, and all possible human interactions have been replaced by one-way surveillance. In many of these tic tac toe videos, Amazon activists literally run in and out of the frame. If delivery drivers were once mildly annoyed or frequently melted, they are now simply inhumane, plugged into machine-run networks, and are expected to move productivity with robotic functionality. The mandatory dance trend on TikTok suggests that customers have also come to see drivers as programmable. While stunts may indicate a vague desire to restore some human aspect to the delivery interaction, they are only capable of maintaining a thin and degrading spectacle.

With the delivery driver downgraded to the American psyche, a new favorite character has emerged: the package itself. Now the driver has less status than the box. When the package is damaged, it is outrageous. But when the driver slips off the steps and turns in pain, he gets 2.8 million views on TikTok. Like Wilson’s The Volleyball in “Cast Away”, which serves as a passive companion for Tom Hanks’ resourceful FedEx employee, the Amazon package with its smiling logo has been created as an epidemic companion, pitched online as a source of “light and spirit”. Is. “Or at least” cheaper than therapy, “during an isolation period. (Some of these posts are actually seeded through Amazon’s influential program.) In Amazon ads, boxes smile and sing as they travel from the warehouse to the porch.

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