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I feel like im talking to the borg (twitter.com/rulesobeyer)
492 points by louis-paul on Aug 15, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 366 comments



I feel like this is twitter in a nutshell, and that goes for everyone involved.

The very first response is "eally like? cause your workers are liars?"

There we go, now the entire conversation is everything or nothing, you're either with them or against them. Then it's off into personal attacks and arguments about followers and etc.

Nobody is talking to each other in any of that. They're just posting for everyone else to see.

The medium is the message and twitter is dumb, and it makes everyone on it dumb.


>you're either with them or against them.

well if you're dealing with a corporate entity the size of amazon and their weird bot/shill twitter army that's pretty much the only sane response.

Do you seriously think if you chat nicely with these PR people they're going to hook you up with someone who matters and amazon is going to have a nice chat about their anti-union practises with you over a cup of tea? Makes about as much sense as telling hong kongers to be friendly to the people's liberation army

Calling on workers to fight amazon is the only reasonable thing to do and if these combatative tweets bring attention to their PR campaigns than that's a plus


Putting aside that you've given up entirely on any form of discourse with the account you're responding to...

You aren't only talking to that account - you are having a public conversation in front of millions of people.

...and if the discussion goes something like:

Company A: "We believe in xyz."

Twitter B: "You are an <insert insult>."

...then what benefit have you delivered to the other millions of people reading? All you are doing is stroking the ego of those who agree, and fueling outrage for those that don't. No ones position is evolving.

Instead, you should recognize that the audience of your comment is the millions of silent readers whose combined opinions/votes/dollars have an actual impact. To them, a logical, well reasoned, and UN-emotional argument is persuasive, and far more likely to help you achieve your goal.


> To them, a logical, well reasoned, and UN-emotional argument is persuasive, and far more likely to help you achieve your goal.

I'm not so sure. Know your audience. On hackernews I agree. But there are forums where nobody reads or understands your well reasoned arguments..


So why use those forums? If all you can do on twitter or reddit and whatnot is engage in pointless flamewars, why post there at all, or read them?

What does anyone gain by spending time exchanging "biting sarcasm" (as per a sibling comment) on an online platform?

Are there issues that we need to resolve with debate? If so, will those issues be resolved by slagging off each other on the internets? If not, is it any point doing exactly that, instead of trying (very hard) to have a level-headed, thoughtful conversation?

(And I do mean _trying_ very very hard because the internets has made little snotty know-it-alls of many of us and that just sucks).


Because those forums reach a wider audience? Because not every forum espouses or encourages well researched and reasoned arguments?

I like both twitter and hacker news, for expressing myself in different ways. Each have their place. One place isn't better than the other. Humans are diverse and so are their needs.


> a logical, well reasoned, and UN-emotional argument is persuasive, and far more likely to help you achieve your goal.

This is shockingly naive. Look at the world around you. Read history.


Company A: "We believe in xyz."

Twitter B: "You are an <insert insult>."

But that's not what happened. "really like? cause your workers are liars?" is not an insult, it's pointing out that your workers contradict you.


I do think that a snarky witty reply goes farther.

Biting sarcasm is also not bad.

You want to be remembered by your readers and logical, well reasoned arguments dont hold up that well in that regard.


> and if these combatative tweets bring attention to their PR campaigns than that's a plus

I'm not convinced that's a thing. I see a lot of twitter styled activism and I'm not sure what the impact is outside of maybe some anecdotal events.


of course a single young person can't do much other than speak (which is after all supposed to be the point of twitter), but on the aggregate it does shift the conservation. Over the last few years people have become more aware of amazon's business practises and it is starting to be reflected in politics, on both sides of the isle.

Sure, a tweet chain like this isn't going to change the world, but it's better than nothing or to pretend you can have a genuine discussion with Seth "fc ambassador" your friendly neighbourhood employee who is literally reading talking points off a page

I mean just genuinely look at these accounts, there's a guy who looks like 20 and claims to have grandchildren, then there's someone switching gender mid-conversation, it's like something out of a Kafka novel. In East Germany people used to refer to the increasingly bizarre existing social order as Realsozialismus, I think we've entered Realkapitalismus.


I get how how an individual might feel they can't do much more or better than nothing. I would argue though that if they choose just to tweet and so forth, they're not doing much at all.

I'm still not sure that there really is much of a change with twitter style activism.

I suspect everyone who is inclined to belive a thing already are in their own protected circles (to use a google+ term ) and they're not changing much. The bots are the only crossover I suspect.

Personally when I am on Twitter, I unfollow a lot of the higher activity activist types (even the folks I know), because honestly even when I agree i don't care to see folks yell at each other.

I suspect "there's nothing else I can do" is still a net 0 in the end as far as change goes, well other than the aggravation of a twitter spat.


I'll add in my two cents.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Amazon's product quality overall was in the toilet due to low qualify manufacturing and co-mingling genuine products with knockoffs in the warehouses, but I didn't really have anything to back me up other than products that I was unsatisfied with. Then HN threads and comments started mentioning the same thing. That stuff has been spreading like wildfire.

I'd argue that voices in unison on Twitter would have a farther reach that a niche community like HN. I know people in my circles have been even more skeptical of products sold on Amazon for these very reasons.


> on the aggregate it does shift the conservation.

I think this is totally overblown. Reddit thinks they did it. Twitter thinks they did it. Politicians think they did it. News organizations think they did it. People in the streets think they did it.

Sure everyone contributes, but except for some limited circumstances, I'm going to give the least credit to those of us on the couch and put the most credit at the feet of the investigative reporters and researchers who provide more than mob shame and anecdotes.


Why, that's how mobs work, of course! We've see plenty of instances of mob justice on twitter.

https://theweek.com/articles/787650/how-twitter-facebook-are...

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-t...


> well if you're dealing with a corporate entity the size of amazon and their weird bot/shill twitter army that's pretty much the only sane response.

I don't see anything bot-like about the responses, I mean check this one out:

> Actually, we aren’t robots! We just love the Amazon website.

That's a perfectly normal human thing to say to another human who also likes human things such as carbohydrates and oxygen.


"I'm not a robot, I like carbohydrates, oxygen and Amazon just like you," strikes me as at least suspicious ...


I had to delete Twitter from my phone - I found it would make me angry for no discernible reason, and I'm generally a pretty even-tempered person. Not healthy.

Once you detach, you realize quickly that much of Twitter represents a tiny minority of loud, self-righteous people. When "Twitter explodes" in righteous indignation, I feel like the best move would simply be to ignore it and wait for everyone to move on.


I'm right on the edge. That said, there's some parts of Twitter I really enjoy (patio11, for example). But since a lot of his best stuff is hidden in the "Tweets and replies" section of his profile, I rarely get to see it in my feed, so I have to go through the "Search" section and see everything that's "just for me". Which seems to translate to "Just for getting me angry for no discernible reason" a lot of the time.


Yeah, same. I actually found this with facebook as well. Since I quit both networks about a year ago I've been overall happier and have shifted that downtime to either just not using my phone or reading a book via kindle.


I've thought about making a twitter to follow some InfoSec/Cyber-security people but I know I'd get caught up in the wider twittersphere. I always found it amusing that BBC news would report people getting upset about X on twitter when that's kind of what the whole platform is about.


It's so hard to know what "twitter explodes" even means.

I imagine hundreds of thousands of users could go bonkers about something and it not matter at all. Also 1k users get upset and in the larger world that issue really matters.

I have to work really hard at pruning what I follow on twitter in a constant effort to keep things "on topic" in regard to why I followed some things.


>There we go, now the entire conversation is everything or nothing, you're either with them or against them. Then it's off into personal attacks and arguments about followers and etc.

I really think this is by design at Twitter. The confusing way that the conversations are structured, and intentionally limited to allow any possibility for nuance of any kind, just maximizes outrage.

Essentislly twitter wants you to go to the service and get angry. That keeps you addicted and coming back to see how the argument has progressed. It’s like a much more addicting/toxic version of cable news.


That's an interesting fantasy, but, Twitter's "design" originates from being nothing more than a simplistic broadcast SMS tool where every message had to fit in an SMS including the username/command part as originally SMS was the primary way people used Twitter.

After that, nearly every single aspect of Twitter was actually invented by its users including @ replies, and mechanisms for "threading." All that Twitter has done is ride that user behavior by slightly conforming to it through actions like UI trying to follow threads via text relationships, or eventually adding actual reply metadata to tweets.

And the increase in messages size? That came with a huge backlash from many of its users.

To imply that Twitter has somehow cleverly engineered the dumpster fire that burns everlasting there is giving them FAR, FAR more credit than they deserve.


I'm not sure the other user means they engineered "the dumpster fire" as much as their idea of engagement combined with the shallow text field, and the way retweets and etc work that it produced the inevitable.

Both could be "by design".


Or they don't change what it's become, because they like it that way == "by design".


Yeah sadly "engagement" and outrage seems to be one and the same in so many situations.


It is Pavlov's dog experiment, where instead of the bell, you have a like/retweet Count conditioning and reinforcing behavior. Natural human interaction has never had a number placed next to every thought and utterance.

The numbers have fucked up the way people think and behave.


"The numbers have fucked up the way people think and behave"

les measurables


It is Pavlov's dog experiment, where instead of the bell, you have an upvote Count conditioning and reinforcing behavior. Natural human interaction has never had a number placed next to every thought and utterance.

The numbers have fucked up the way people think and behave.


I could understand if both the parent and grand parent were equally down voted, but they're not. Instead the parent is downvoted without any explanation as to why they're wrong, and a culture of pointing out why someone is wrong before downvoting them is the only reasonable dividing line I can think of between the 2 comments, thus seemingly proving the parent right...


It's because repeating posts provide no value.


It's different in a way that makes an important point.

Could it have be put differently? Probably, but another rule of good discourse is to play the argument not the man (or the presentation), so you again seem to be making the parents point.


Maybe I'm missing something but the text is nearly identical except to show how forums might provide similar motivations. That's pretty redundant.

HN is pretty strict about low quality content and such, that's not "proving a point" it's just a question of local traditions.

Personal I've little regard for "you're proving my point by down-voting me" kind of arguments, it's always almost self serving and either a question of that user's ignorance about the local forum's policies or they just don't care.


So we're on the same page, I understood qwsxyh to be making reference to hacker news. In view of that the up/down votes clearly aren't what make twitter what it is, or else HN would be the same, and I hope we can both agree that it isn't. So what is the difference? Id say culture, you're saying traditions (potato, potahto), so what is that culture? I would say at minimum communicating a reason for downvotes, rather than than just the blunt instrument of the downvote alone. Another cultural trait is frowning on ad hominem attacks, because its the message that should be debated, debating the form of the message seems closely related to me.

So it isn't about "you're proving my point by down-voting me"


I think culture plays a part, but the medium does to, I'd argue a great deal.

The differences between HN's system, and twitters is pretty obvious IMO.

Just at the most obvious twitter limits the amount of text. I doubt the average HN post would even fit on twitter. That's a pretty significant difference just to start.

>So it isn't about "you're proving my point by down-voting me"

I don't know what you mean by that.


"I don't know what you mean by that"

I was fully explaining my point of view, because I don't think it boils down to that.

I would argue that HN's voting system tends to encourage shorter comments. I personally find it annoying to write a well reasoned 10 point essay and get downvotes and no feedback, is there one particular point you're disagreeing with or what? So I would argue that long comments survive despite the voting system.

Could you suggest other differences in medium that you think make the difference? Moderation?


I agree in general, but it's not like there was any chance of having a meaningful conversation with people who are actual paid shills.


It wasn't going to happen either way I suspect based on the medium and everyone's choices there.


Thank you. Just a very horrid conversation from both sides.


You need to train your skill of critical perception of information. They are really paid accounts and you still think it's ok to "talk" to them. You better read whole thread, not just first tweet.


I read the whole thread.

I was commenting on twitter as a medium.


Any "medium" without strict moderation is a representation of society. You think twitter is toxic, but what is toxic actually - society, people.


Society has its own moderation for public discourse, ie laws, social norms, and accountability by virtue of being exposed in public to name a few. So no an unmoderated medium is not a representation of society or at least not an accurate one.


There is no such law "don't be a jerk" or "don't be toxic". You think "social norms" are important to people because they are important to you. But, 1) norms are different in different places, in different social circles; 2) there is a lot of people who don't care what others think or want - some people are capable to sell own kids, some people are closer to the angels, like Keanu Reeves or Tom Hanks :)


The medium absolutely shapes what occurs there, what is discussed and what isn't, and how it is discussed and how it isn't discussed.


Not twitter.


This is exactly how it feels. None of the messages to the reps are actually directed at them - it's a show made for everyone else to see and retweet and get upset over.


I don't think I agree with you.

The tweet from Amazon she was replying to said "come see what our warehouses are really like" - strongly implying that the workers who complained are dishonest - not misinformed, they work there. So, dishonest.

So her response was perfectly reasonable imo.


Reddit politics is the same.


The important thing is you've found a way to feel superior to everyone. Ten points to you for being so immensely smart.


This is a parroted response used every time someone attempts to meta-analyze the method that allows discourse to propagate. Someone going "ha, you just want to feel superior," is pretty ironic, isn't it?

Examining and critizicing communication mediums is an important and valuable thing to do, especially with respect to the internet. Do you truly believe that sound-bite length tweets that focus more on trying "burn" the opposing side instead of making cogent points are the best way of having rational discussions? If not, then what the OP mentioned is important - the format of Twitter just _doesn't_ lend itself to good discussions as much as it does to fanning flames and coming up with good quips. It promotes the worst parts of discourse, and viewing everything that comes out of it through that lens isn't an attempt to feel superior - it's a _necessary_ thing to keep in mind. In order to fully appreciate a message, you have to fully understand its medium. And Twitter is a shitty medium.


Yet I find the discussion focusing on the meta level of the conversation medium, and not on the higher-order level of society in general, and how a paid collective of actors can overwhelm the power of the individual, to be disingenuous, and potentially a distractionary measure from the far more important conversation around the role of large corporations controlling narratives in our society. It reeks to me of the same debate-club nonsense, where someone can be arguing about some human atrocity, but the second someone makes some sort of named argumentative slip up, the conversation gets recentered completely on semantics or the medium of debate, completely destroying the discussion of the actual higher-order issue effecting the meta-connections between humans and the structures we deem permissible in governing us all...


If the medium is so bad in practice that it does nothing to address the larger issue you're talking about. I think that is very relevant to both aspects, the medium and the actual issue.


A real gem in there was the comment of "there is actually an open door policy at the FCs, which allows us to directly communicate with our managers if we have concerns or issues."

Think about that for a second. The fact that they feel that is notable to call out, saying they "actually" have that... implies that they believe it is normal to not have an open door policy, and not be allowed to talk to their managers about problems.

I have worked warehouse jobs at a couple points in my life, and it was always OK to talk to your manager. It wasn't a perk, it was just how things were.


That could also be interpreted as a response to the people who talk about the warehouse workers like they're slave labor with zero rights. It's like saying "Believe it or not, we actually have an open door policy and can talk to our managers if there are any issues."


> That could also be interpreted as a response to the people who talk about the warehouse workers like they're slave labor with zero rights. It's like saying "Believe it or not, we actually have an open door policy and can talk to our managers if there are any issues."

To me, it sounds like an echo of standard anti-union propaganda: e.g. "I don't need a union, because I can work out any problems I have directly with my manager!"

IIRC, this Wal-mart video has a line like that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cle_OuOpBZc.


The past reports on Amazon warehouses call out how strict and automated the management is: that the local managers don't have the authority to really do much in the way of providing flexibility (or humanity) to people.


Yeah, I don't doubt the reports about it. I was just commenting about how "we actually have an open door policy" doesn't necessarily mean that the employees are brainwashed into thinking that having basic rights is something to applaud.


I think the pushback was that if there's an "open door" policy it is presumed to mean "open communication with the possibility of change or at least suggestions being heard".

If the supervisor you have an "open door" to communicate with has zero flexibility in what they can do to help you then you might as well converse with one of the stock-picking robots.


Also I believe a lot of these warehouses are subcontractors for Amazon.


The worst of excuses for bad behavior, "it wasn't us, it was the subcontractors (that we told to act that way)!"


Some people I know in AWS say that about their managers too


That jumped out at me too. My reading was the implication that if there was a union, you would lose that. It seems like a common anti-union talking point, from what I've seen at Walmart and Whole Foods.


In my experience being in a union (against my preferences) it’s not implied, but a fact.

Unions have sued their own members for speaking with managers about grievances.


I work under a union (though I'm not a member yet). Obviously every union is different, and every contract is different, but this sounds completely insane to me.

My first point of contact is always my team lead. If they ask me to do something unsafe, for example, I just say so. If it's not resolved there, I'd go to my job steward. The job steward exists to be the on-site worker advocate. I've spoken to my job steward about an issue maybe once ever.

I can't imagine how not having an advocate would ever be beneficial for me. It's simply an alternate path of escalation for issues which doesn't end at management saying "shut up and do the job".

The simple answer to not wanting to get sued for speaking with your manager is to have your union not write a #@&!*ing contract that allows workers to get sued for speaking with their managers. (Duh?) I'm sure that clause has existed somewhere, and I'm sure they had a reason for it, but my experience is that 99.99% of the time it's just like any other job, but with better pay and working conditions. If your manager is reasonable and listens to your grievances, then the day-to-day is literally no different than non-represented work.

Sounds like pure FUD to me.


It truly depends on the context. Can this type of siloization be detrimental to quick fixes? Absolutely. But are quick one-off sweep-under-the-rug fixes the best thing for less-vocal workers if there is a likelihood that similar problems may be occurring for them? The devil is in the details, and suing a member would hopefully be a last resort in case of a member knowingly stepping on the heads of others. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that all unions are rationally run. But having an environment that is hostile to them on principle doesn’t help.


Unions have sued their own members for speaking with managers about grievances.

When someone did an end-run around the agreed-upon way of handling conflict, and thought they'd go leverage their personal friendship with the manager to get what they want? Yeah, I could how that might happen, that's one of things unions often try to prevent.


What sort of grievance here I would normally expect a worker to first use the standard grievance procedure (in most cases) before coming to me.

Or is it "Hi Boss we come from the same village / clan /race how about you put me on that sweet work detail/shift".

I have (in the UK) personally overheard a guy working at a well known company say this - Also Fords at Dagenham had a scandal where white workers monopolised the better jobs.


Citation for that?!


I also searched a little and didn’t find a story about this. Where did this occur and what union?


My guess would be that it would be because the member is trying to cut an individual deal on a group problem. This is how the capitalist class practices divide and conquer.


What is the "capitalist class"?


> Modern capitalist societies—marked by a universalization of money-based social relations, a consistently large and system-wide class of workers who must work for wages, and a capitalist class which owns the means of production [....]

Emphasis mine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism


I expected another definition in the context of that comment, but fine. According to that, it's anyone who owns the means to production, and is thus the most open class possible. Rather strange to say they're dividing and conquering when anyone can join.


Anyone who owns the means but does not actually do the work of production. This is in contrast to a worker-owned structure. It leads to concentration of power, since the profit from many workers goes to one or a few owners. Each owner is more powerful than any one worker, so workers have to act collectively to have leverage.


This is a fallacy. If you're going to talk about profit then you must also consider that the risk and loss also goes to owners while workers get paid either way.

This is something that should be rather simple to understand in the HN/Startup crowd. Considering that anyone can buy shares or start their own business, my point stands that this is the most non-exclusive club possible.


> This is a fallacy. If you're going to talk about profit then you must also consider that the risk and loss also goes to owners while workers get paid either way.

I think you're falling into a set pattern of argument rather than looking at what's under examination and considering it on merit.

> This is something that should be rather simple to understand in the HN/Startup crowd. Considering that anyone can buy shares or start their own business, my point stands that this is the most non-exclusive club possible.

Please look back over the previous posts in the thread and consider the points that have already been raised.


I don't think your point is going to get across.

You're talking to basically a huge crowd of well-paid individuals who can and do frequently swap between employment and self-employment, including employing others.

The people who these talking points might hit better with are people who don't have the capital, or access to such capital, to be able to do such things.


> I don't think your point is going to get across.

Oh, I'm used to Internet discussions with folks of a certain mindset (I here carefully avoid a convenient, self-selected label that I suspect applies in this case, as its introduction is rarely helpful). They're incredibly common online and usually very eager to engage. Years and years of experience, here. I usually avoid it these days because it's almost always fruitless for all concerned, but felt like giving it a go this time.

> You're talking to basically a huge crowd of well-paid individuals who can and do frequently swap between employment and self-employment, including employing others.

Fussell's class-confused middle by socialized attitude, maybe, coupled with the income and means of his upper-middle and so especially off-kilter. "I'm a doctor, I make good money, I run my own practice, therefore the capitalist class is both what I'm part of and easy to join, so it's a silly and not very useful term". That sort of thing.


I came from one of the poorest places in the world. I didn't have access to capital when I was born or young. I do have access now, and it's the ability to be a 'capitalist' under my own efforts which is responsible for that change.

This is why generalizations on audiences are pointless. Don't assume people are incapable of understanding an argument or empathizing with a perspective just because of their current place in life.


The workers also shoulder the risk. If a business goes under, they lose their jobs.

Ability to buy large quantities of shares is not "non-exclusive." Not everyone has money.


That's not the same risk. That's a voluntary agreement of work in exchange for cash, and either side can stop at anytime. Legal and contractual obligations like pensions and severance can also be layered on. What assets and liabilities that employee has in their personal life doesn't factor into calculation, they could be independently wealthy for all you know.

Also why does it have to be "large quantities"? Buy 1 share and you're a part owner. Many large companies have stock plans. It's not rare and if you're an employee then by definition you "have money" from working.


> Also why does it have to be "large quantities"? Buy 1 share and you're a part owner. Many large companies have stock plans. It's not rare and if you're an employee then by definition you "have money" from working.

Because the distinction is whether one's primary activity is using capital to gain income, versus working for pay. "Ah but a worker may own some shares!" isn't important. It's tough to nail down color names at transition points, too, but you add a tiny bit of white to some very red paint and no-one's gonna start calling it pink. It's still red.

[EDIT] at the heart of the misunderstanding, here, is a false syllogism, I think. "Pink paint is red mixed with white, you mixed some white in this red, therefore it is now pink"; "The capitalist class own capital, this worker owns some capital, therefore this worker is part of the capitalist class"; "The capitalist class owns capital, this guy owns and operates a hot dog stand, a hotdog stand is capital, therefore this guy is part of the capitalist class". It's quite similar to another that's often seen: "Mugging is taking something by threat of force, governments ultimately back taxation with the threat of force, therefore taxation is the same as mugging" or variations that end up at at some form of "taxation is the same thing as theft, so your thinking is inconsistent if you don't transfer all your bad feelings about theft to taxation, as well".


This thread was about the term, and that's the definition. If you have to change it to "you'll know it when you see it" then perhaps the definition is not so useful. The biggest companies have started from the smallest of ventures so your personal perception of size and importance has nothing to do with the term's qualification.

And no taxes are not theft, they are a contract in exchange for citizenship and sovereignty of the nation. Evading taxes is theft, by you from the government.


> This thread was about the term, and that's the definition. If you have to change it to "you'll know it when you see it" then perhaps the definition is not so useful. The biggest companies have started from the smallest of ventures so your personal perception of size and importance has nothing to do with the term's qualification.

You keep ignoring important parts of what's commonly considered the defining properties of the capitalist class, to make the idea seem less useful and much more slippery than it is. Or maybe taking that one sentence from WP as the entirety of the definition, period (though, again, ignoring important parts of that, even). I'm not sure you're going to find what you need to understand the concept, if you're interested, in an HN discussion.


It doesn't seem that way, it is that way. If you have to muddy the definition to make it fit then it's not very practical. I sense your particular context being a class of people who have power through ownership of means. My point is that ownership is available to anyone, either by buying shares (fine if you say that's difficult) OR by starting their own business (literally minutes away on the internet).

If anyone can join then it's not exclusive. In fact it's entirely welcoming. The economy not only supports it but relies on it, demands it even, and the very people you may claim are the most powerful today includes members who have started with nothing and were far outside that 'class'. The boundary is completely porous and ever-shifting so as to be non-existent outside of a political discussion. There are no chains binding you.

So what is the use of such a definition other than a "us-vs-them" distraction? When the "them" is open to anyone? It seems like the side which is dividing and conquering is not the capitalists.


> It doesn't seem that way, it is that way. If you have to muddy the definition to make it fit then it's not very practical.

OK. I wrote a really long response attempting to get through, but frankly, at this point, you should write a paper and submit to some journals, because this whole line of reasoning would be a significant finding if it stands up to scrutiny.


Everything after that first sentence is entirely about your interpretation of it.

Brevity is a key signal of clarity and cohesiveness. If it takes a journal paper to even attempt a discussion then this entire concept (under your interpretation) is suspect.


> If you have to muddy the definition to make it fit

They're not muddying the definition. You're ignoring part of the definition.

Everyone has been consistent about what the definition is, and you have consistently pretended that part of the definition isn't there.


Can you please put that part that I'm ignoring in a single sentence? Is it "primary activity is using capital to gain income, versus working for pay"?


Yes. I see you actually did understand that after all.

Are you calling it "muddy", then, because socioeconomic mobility exists? America's socioeconomic mobility is among the lowest of developed nations and getting worse since the 80s, but regardless, in order to even study such a thing requires defining it. Its definition is not muddy, it's widely accepted and studied.

I am genuinely happy for you that you were able to achieve it. I am incredibly grateful my parents were able to achieve it. But such achievements don't mean it's not still a problem.


Owning a few shares isn't really what's meant. If your way of life still depends on earning wages for the bulk of your adult life, that's usually not what people mean by the term "capitalist" (or "capitalist class"), since it'd be a pretty useless definition.


Anyone can buy shares or start a business and own their means. It's only become easier now with the internet.

And yes, I agree that it's a useless definition. I've never seen it used outside of esoteric political debates.


> And yes, agree that it's a useless definition. I've never seen it used outside of esoteric political debates.

Esoteric? It's a central concept for understanding how capitalist societies are structured. The central concept, even. It's not math, it's language, exceptions or hard-to-pin-down boundary regions don't wholly invalidate or render useless an idea.


I said it's a useless definition, not an invalid idea. Being a central concept does not mean it's not esoteric.


> Being a central concept does not mean it's not esoteric.

That might be fair. I wouldn't consider a term well understood by anyone with much exposure to the social sciences (any of them, just about, will run you into it, sooner rather than later, probably) or a more-than-tiny exposure to economics (if we're feeling generous and separate that from the social sciences) or just about any higher liberal arts education, to be esoteric, but I can see that falling within one's tolerances for the term, depending. Probably well North of half the population would be lost by it, or take something other than the intended meaning, that's true.



In my comment, I meant the people that give the orders versus the people who must accept them.


As always I'm divided on comments like this. The first half is entirely accurate - it's trying to keep individuals from cutting their own deal and undermining the value of the collective bargaining process. I just don't know if we should start using a framework of class conflict to go along with it.

I feel like the point could easily be made without mentioning the "capitalist class", which seems to weaken the argument. But I don't know if the particular word choice terminology has no value? Should a point be inflammatory for those who oppose it? For some people putting it like that, using the ideas of class conflict conflict has value, but it seems to further divide the conversation. Is it more important to tell it like you think it is, or to try and make a point that the most people will agree with? I don't know what the solution is.


If capitalist class were replaced with managerial class? Or just management?

That's how I read it as I'm not sure capitalist class makes a whole lot of sense to me in the context, and I'm sure the commies used exactly the same tactics anyway.


It's just the use of clearly something that's very meaningful to the author, but I wonder if it gets lost or just serves to exacerbate people who aren't viewing it from their same angle, causing the point to be discarded.


I work in a large and friendly company, in which there seems to be a general fear of speaking up. if a company as employee-friendly as mine has difficulty in moving people towards an open speak-up culture, I think it’s totally reasonable to assume that many companies aren't successful at this, either.

It should therefore be reasonable for an Amazon warehouse employee to point out the counter-case for their experience, without you ascribing negatives to Amazon itself based on this.


My company has a quarterly "engagement" survey. If our supervisor doesn't get a 5 rating (highest) from us, he gets in trouble, so as shit rolls downhill, we get in trouble.

The majority of the team answers the survey questions dishonestly, so as to avoid rolling shit. The others feel it's their only way of expressing discontent short of leaving.


Wow, that's terrible.

What exactly happens to the supervisor, and what exactly does he do to all of you?

What do you think could be done to make this situation better?

I wonder if something different, maybe more serious needs to happen to the supervisor for getting a low rating? Or I guess the issue is, he gets to retaliate for a whole quarter and your opportunity to ding him further won't be until 3 months later. Maybe there needs to be an avenue for immediately reporting this kind of retaliation, with clear consequences for him? If the higher-ups don't have the kind of trust it would take to create such an avenue, I dunno what can be done. I guess that's what unions are supposed to be for, but the situation already sounds so broken. I guess if a union already existed and was trusted, it could serve as such an avenue of last-resort.


Well he doesn't really get a low rating. The questions (coming from Gallup I assume) are vague enough that if you answer fairly at all, no one would get a 5 across the board. He gets roughly 4.5 on average, but they compare each category to previous surveys.

He doesn't really punish/retaliate so much as make us have a team meeting where we discuss the survey, and then we have to come up with solutions. The surveys are supposed to be anonymous, but who really knows. So the meetings end up with people being vague and non-committal since it's hard to directly criticize your supervisor face to face sometimes.

And each supervisor is compared to their peers, and the organization is also rated. So if people don't feel happy about the workplace 100%, mgmt feels like it's the supervisors fault, not upper mgmt. Just a bad situation all around.


Dang. I wonder if either there could be an anonymous feedback channel to the supervisor, or a meeting could be arranged (with the supervisor's knowledge, so they don't feel like it's behind their back) that specifically excludes the supervisor where people could discuss what changes they would like, including to the supervisor's behavior, that would conclude with the group agreeing on someone to explain to the supervisor what changes they collectively want.


Open door policy means nothing if you'll be fired if you actually make use of it. (Not saying Amazon is necessarily like that.)


That's more just corporate pr speak to turn something that is incredibly standard into an incredible perk of how great the company is. One of the first places I worked my boss talked about how he let his developers listen to music on the job.


This may also stem from some union-busting messaging. One of the talking points that you see on anti-union posters and in videos is "unions get in the way of you talking to your manager, when you can talk to your manager directly you can address concerns straightaway with them."

This reminds me of that.


Yes...and is that not factual?

My experience being in a union tells me it is.


My experience in a union tells me that it isn't. Being unionized doesn't mean that you have to be on the warpath at all time. It just means that if the structure (quite often, not directly your manager) has a big problem, the workers have the necessary logistics to share information and help each other, regardless of the management structure.

In some cases, it may be confrontational, but that's pretty unusual in my personal experience.


My experience being in a union tells me it's not.

But unions literally are (within the law) whatever their members decide they will be, so if you expect that of your potential union, it just means you expect it of your coworkers.


Some bad companies: no big deal, no one's making you stay, leave if you don't like it.

Some bad unions: all unions are awful and the solution is to not have unions.


If a company is bad you can just switch to another company, if a powerful union is bad you'd have to switch to another industry.


Or convince other employees in your workplace that that union is bad and decertify them (perhaps replacing them with a new union that you and your coworkers form, either independently or affiliated with a better parent union.)


How is that easier than convincing the employer? Seems much harder, especially since the middle-men have a vested interest in perpetuating any problems.


I imagine that this may be true, but only if there's a single union in the industry. Why on Earth would that be the case?


Because Unions are basically corporations that go by another name and want to gobble up the market share?

Unions are not benevolent. They are bureaucratic organizations that want to grow in power and resources just like a corporation. Their interests just happen to be orthogonal to corporate interests which can be beneficial for employees.

https://kk.org/thetechnium/the-shirky-prin/


An interesting model.

I suppose you could describe many groups of people as corporations by another name so I'm not sure how far that gets us, and I tend to treat groups of people large enough to have emergent behaviours as essentially amoral anyway.

Your market share comments are interesting. I remember Matt Levine making an observation about Uber's 'contractors', if they attempted to unionise could be guilty of price fixing, because they're supposed to be competitors. The corporation seems to be another step along where price fixing within the corporation is allowed, and the union goes a step further again by making monopolistic behaviour ok.

As a society that has decided that a corporation can decide how to organise itself and work together internally, but also a society that has decided that monopoly, or at least the abuse of that monopoly is wrong, these seem to be interesting exceptions.


They are assuming the German sector based model here.


Is there anything preventing unions from growing huge and essentially dominating entire sectors in the US?


Yes, that's not how unions are structured by law in the US. Every union is shop-based and organized against a specific employer. They usually throw in with a larger union or an association, but not always. This is where the "Local 404" comes from -- the union itself is the local ###, aligned with the national federation. The union at Powell's Books, for example, is a retail union but they're connected to the ILWU, the longshoremen.

Portland is also undergoing an tremendous unionization battle at a local burger chain (Burgerville); one or two of the shops have successfully unionized, while the rest are still fighting for their right to organize. That's because unions here are at the shop level, and there just couldn't be one burger union that dominated all burger-making.


> The cynic in me thinks, if unions were such a bad thing, why wouldn't the owners let them form, burn the employees, and decertify?

Because unions gets more powerful than any company and can leverage said power against both workers and employers.

Lets take SAG-AFTRA as an example, a union many here at HN says the software industry should mimic. Their contracts with their workers states that the workers are not allowed to work at non-union shops, and their contracts with shops states that they are not allowed to work with non-union workers. This means that you as a worker has to join the union if your workplace unionize no matter if you feel it benefits you or not, and as long as the union control most workers any larger workplace will be forced to join or they will lack workers.

Why would workers not just stop being in the union, since it costs $3k to join and 2% of your salary to stay? Because the entire workforce at a union shop has to quit at once, at the same time the shop has to decide that they are not a union shop any longer. Do you think that will happen? No, of course not, weeding out a union in such a situation is way harder than starting the union in the first place. And even if they organize, the union could organize a picket in return to harass the shop and its worker into compliance.

Edit: Also PR and propaganda could easily make workers believe the union is good for them even if it isn't, kinda like how poor whites think that Republicans are on their side.


> Why would workers not just stop being in the union, since it costs $3k to join and 2% of your salary to stay? Because the entire workforce at a union shop has to quit at once, at the same time the shop has to decide that they are not a union shop any longer.

Or a majority has to elect new leadership in the union who will replace the problematic rules.

Or a majority (either of the whole membership or of workers in a defined subarea) need to vote to decertify (and optionally replace) the union.

Because of these, “everyone has to quit at once” is literally never an issue.

> Also PR and propaganda could easily make workers believe the union is good for them even if it isn't

Sure, but workers opposed to the existing union and employers and union parent organizations competing with the parent of the existing union (or wanting to become the parent of there is no current parent) are all able to deploy “PR and propaganda” (two different names for the same thing) against the established union, too.


You could write the exact same comment about USG, and yet here we are...

"The Market" (or however you want to think about it) is not perfectly efficient - if it were, there would never have been any motivation to form unions because every employee's requirements would already be perfectly reflected in the companies they chose to work for. Rather, sluggish network effects and other non-invisible-hand structures dominate immediate results.

All power tends to concentrate. When it gets large enough, it attracts those who seek and hold power for their own ends rather than any benevolently stated goals. Your scenarios are straightforwardly mitigated by union leadership directly appeasing the leaders of such movements, the same way monopolist companies buy out possible competitors to keep a stranglehold - the creation rate of competition is itself limited.

I don't know too many specifics about SAG-AFTRA itself, but its hold over the entire industry is a good indicator that it is indeed too large. Its size implies politicking on the order of at least a city government. Conversely, that size may also be the minimum necessary to engage in collective bargaining across different production companies, and so any general top-down reform is a bit hazy. My only direct experience with this is seeing casual SAG actors having to do a bunch of extra paperwork to participate in a strictly non-profit hobby short film production. It seemed quite ridiculous and onerous, until I thought about the neighboring gradient of low-budget for-profit film production.


Or we just don't have a union in the first place.


IATSE is a better model for tech SAG / Equity.

Also entertainment unions provide way more services eg training, chasing late payers for freelancers and running the "call first list" - this is the list of problem employers.


> Is there anything preventing unions from growing huge and essentially dominating entire sectors in the US?

The structure of labor law makes it just as possible for workers with a particular employer or in a particular job class with an employer to decertify—and, if they wish, simultaneously replace—a union (or for a union local to dissociate from a parent organization) as it is to organize one in the first place, which doesn't prevent parent union organizations from getting large, but does limit the success of ones that, in doing so, fail to meet the needs of their members in particular workplaces.


Because the amount of force use by employers against unions in very anti social countries such as corporate US is extreme, then you might get that feeling. But countries where business and unions understand that they're partners and not enemies , both sides usually are not on a war path.

The problem is not big business, or socialism, the problem is of mentality.

Sadly the US business mentality is centered around bullying and zero sum perception of the world. violence begets violence.

Too bad this brain virus is catching on at other cultures. It'll end up with either a big blowout, or suppression of the masses.


Was your manager not in the union as well...? This is so far outside my experience I can't even understand it. How does union leadership know if you talk to your manager? How do they enforce you not talking to them?


Not my experience at all.


There is a difference between open door as a matter of policy and open door as a matter of practice. I've dealt with both, and the latter actually works, the former does not. Most retail is the former.


I doubt these are bots.

One of them says:

> I don't get compensated per tweet. I get paid $15/hr whether I am answering tweets or out on the floor stowing. I do this 2 days a week and 2 days a week I stow.

While I think it's weird that Amazon is doing this, I also doubt that the warehouse jobs are bad jobs. I've done manual labor for less than $15/hr and I'd much rather have a job like that than, say, a job in a restaurant.

I also think it's ironic that the instigator here claims to care about "the working class":

> really like? cause your workers are liars? you’re not going to convince the working class that everything is fine by telling us where to avert our eyes, we already know what it’s really like. why don’t you really treat your workers better, you can afford it

She's talking to working class people and when they disagree with her, she accuses them of literally not being human.

If people want to advocate for the working class, they need to step outside of the simplistic fiction that "evil corporations are ruining people's lives by employing them and not treating them well". The truth is much more complicated and jobs don't grow on trees.



I'm friends with a couple people who work (or have worked) in these FC centers. They don't complain about these things. They work their ass off and happily collect their paycheck.

In my younger days, I used to work unloading boxes at FedEx for minimum wage. It was hard, back breaking work, and you better believe at holiday time it was crazy hectic and no time off. So I can imagine what it's like at one of these facilities, it's got to be hard as hell.

I'm sure all of us want these people to have the best conditions possible. The concerning thing to me is the tone of conversations like this in the 'Age of outrage'. It's a lot of virtue signaling, and then attacking of anyone who says anything to the contrary. "Oh you're not outraged about this like I am? Well you're an Amazon shill & hate the workers!"

Isn't the bigger issue, why is it these folks don't have better opportunities available to them? They are working these hard, back breaking jobs likely because it is better than anything else they can find in their area.


If the conditions are so bad, why are there more complaints? I'm very distrustful of the media in general and feel like they're pushing an agenda more than anything.

I know people personally that work in distribution centres and they find it a perfectly fine job. It'd hard work, yes, but you see complaints like "boiling hot in summer and freezing in winter", and it's like.. yeah.. Which loading bay isn't like that?


For one there's no reason the whole warehouse has to be as hot as the actual loading docks and the answer to megacorp is treating it's workers poorly isn't really well this whole class of jobs sucks.


The media absolutely pushes an agenda, they are paid to do so. Not many would question that. The difference is, reporting on these things is their job and Amazon is treating their employees like trash. You have to be purposefully ignorant to miss this stuff. It's everywhere! Last Week Tonight broke it down pretty well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9m7d07k22A. The fact you think your anecdotal evidence means anything is puzzling though.


> The fact you think your anecdotal evidence means anything is puzzling though.

It's not evidence. This isn't a peer-reviewed paper, this is an internet chat board. I'm also troubled that although my anecdotal isn't allowed, a comedy show video is 'evidence'.

I'm also not denying that Amazon treat their employers badly. What I'm saying is why the agenda towards Amazon in particular. Many people work in awful jobs but the media just ignores these.

Worst of all, when people who work for Amazon dare to say "it's not all bad", people like you tell them that they're wrong. When I was younger I worked some pretty awful jobs, but often it's people who have never worked jobs like this that think they know best.


I seem to remember that "Last Week Tonight" said that Amazon wasn't as bad, it was the outsourcing companies that were far worse.


You are remembering correctly. But it also pointed out that Amazon sets the standard in the industry and just because they're not the worst doesn't mean they shouldn't get better.


Last Week Tonight isn't real news, it's comedy. Not to mention it's heavily biased.

Also, it's not really that funny :p


So I post a video in response to someone using anecdotal evidence as a counterpoint to Amazon treating their workers poorly. Included in the video are testimonials from actual Amazon workers and your response is to dismiss the video because it's not real news, not funny and heavily biased. None of the things you listed have anything to do with the evidence presented.

And now I see in your other response in this topic you express anecdotal evidence as well. It's simply a poor way to counterpoint something. It really is.


Honestly, I was just trying to be silly ;) But you don't really expect us to watch your 20 min video do you?

Obviously if folks have bad working conditions, I want them them to improve. But how are 'anecdotes' from people I personally know who work in Amazon FC's any different than 'testimonials' from people on TV. I know at least 2 people who work or have worked in these FC's and they never complained. They worked hard & collected their paychecks.

That doesn't mean this is everyone's experience, I'm sure many have been treated poorly. But it goes both ways, we can't assume because some were treated poorly that it is all FC workers experience.

I have never worked for Amazon, but I have worked for FedEx unloading trailers by hand. It was back breaking work. The things I hear these workers saying remind me of that job. We were expected to throw boxes nonstop until it was finished, and our boxes per minute thru-put was closely monitored & expected to be kept above a certain level.

That type of work is not for everyone, and the 6 months I worked there, I watched countless people try and fail at the job. It was too hard and they quit within days. So, I can imagine what the amazon workers go through.

I don't wish poor working conditions on these people, but I also imagine that some of this is getting blown out of proportion.


>Honestly, I was just trying to be silly ;) But you don't really expect us to watch your 20 min video do you?

I don't care if you watch it or not, but if you're going to comment on it and discredit it, it makes you look silly to do so without watching it.

>Obviously if folks have bad working conditions, I want them them to improve. But how are 'anecdotes' from people I personally know who work in Amazon FC's any different than 'testimonials' from people on TV. I know at least 2 people who work or have worked in these FC's and they never complained. They worked hard & collected their paychecks.

You're acting like the people that you know that never complained somehow cancel out the people complaining. That's not how it works.

>That doesn't mean this is everyone's experience, I'm sure many have been treated poorly. But it goes both ways, we can't assume because some were treated poorly that that is all FC workers experience.

It doesn't go both ways. The fact that you think highlighting some of them are being treated well is troubling. That should be the default. That shouldn't be commendable on Amazon's part.

>I have never worked for Amazon, but I have worked for FedEx unloading trailers by hand. It was back breaking work. The things I hear these workers saying remind me of that job. We were expected to throw boxes nonstop until it was finished, and our boxes per minute thru-put was closely monitored & expected to be kept above a certain level.

Sounds like FedEx has some labor issues to me. Do you think treating people like they're robots is a good thing? Both Amazon and FedEx seem to do so.

>I don't wish poor working conditions on these people, but I also imagine that some of this is getting blown out of proportion.

Where is your evidence that would lend credence to this getting blown out of proportion?


Both can be classified as 'anecdotes', I agree, but talking about your work conditions when asked, is a completely different anecdote as opposed to someone not actively complaining when they are with friends/acquaintances.


I find it difficult to distinguish between people with legitimate complaints and people who are ideologically opposed to amazon (BigCo) existing at all.


Which of these people has said or demonstrated that they’re ideologically opposed to Amazon existing at all?


Poor 20-something grandfather Rafael also identifies as a nana and as a middle-aged woman.

https://mobile.twitter.com/TheKenChilds/status/1161847717397...


That's compelling evidence that these aren't FC center workers but somebody running them all as a social media campaign.


Elsewhere in this discussion says that these FC Ambassadors are using Sprinklr app.

I'd guess that Rafael didn't log out of the app (or the nana forgot to do that).


There’s at least two other accounts with multiple name, gender, race changes. It’s likely not because of logging out reasons.


This suggests that there is something weird going on: https://twitter.com/TheKenChilds/status/1161847717397696512


I'm going to keep asking the same question and resort to ad hominem attacks until I get the answer that I am looking for!


"really like? cause your workers are liars?" is not an ad hominem attack, it's contradicting you by pointing to evidence. Eyewitness testimony, by your workers contradicting you, is evidence.


The title of this post is an ad hominem. It's an insult/joke that adds nothing to the discussion. Saying someone sounds like the Borg isn't an insult?


Thank you for explaining, that makes a lot more sense, I see how you could interpret it that way. But no, I think you're misinterpreting. For example, if I said "why are you being so slow?", that could seem like an insult, since "slow" can mean "stupid". However, if the context is that we're playing a game and you keep taking forever on your turn, then "slow" isn't an insult, it's a literal observation.

In this case, compare the thread to a normal conversation. A normal conversation consists of a long chain of alternating messages by two people, comparing and contrasting their two different points of view. This "conversation" consists of a long chain of the original poster expressing their point of view and then a different "FC Ambassador" replying each time, all expressing the same contrasting point of view.

Compare that conversation to the first 1 minute of this clip: https://youtu.be/ZsBz_Q62hHk?t=10

It's just a literal observation, not an insult.

(Technically that's Unity from Rick & Morty; I couldn't find a clip of the original Borg from Star Trek doing this.)


I wouldn’t take the term “Bot” literally - here it’s meant in the same vein as a “Russian troll” or more clearly an astroturfer.

I think many of the people who find fault with rulesobeyer don’t use Twitter. The ambassadors are comoletely robotic in the way they use Twitter - they don’t come across as people, they come across as corporate accounts. Even developer advocates aren’t this robotic.

I feel like I’m looking at stepford wives here and everyone in the comments here are apart of the farce


I insist on taking those terms literally, and you should too. Public discourse isn't going to work if "bot" and "Russian troll" become synonyms for "I don't believe what you're saying and don't think you do either".


What do you think about this? What should we call an account like this?

https://mobile.twitter.com/TheKenChilds/status/1161847717397...


The “ambassadors” are so bad it’s embarrassing.

Which leads me to think they are not actually PR professionals (they would actually not talk in such a robotic way), but really low level employees that are paid extra to talk good on social media, and are repeating from some officially sanctioned book of “what you should and shouldn’t say”

they don’t sound like Borg, they sound like McDonald’s cashiers, just doing their assignments


Quoting one of the ambassadors:

> Sure some dont like it here, but they may just dont like to work.

Ignoring the grammar..

How stupid or naive do you have to be to a) believe that and b) repeat it.

A not so subtle attempt at saying anyone who has a problem here is actually themselves the problem.


This sentiment is quite common in blue collar sectors. Calling them stupid and naive is, at best, out of touch with at least half the voting block of the United States.


> Calling them stupid and naive is, at best, out of touch with at least half the voting block of the United States.

Out of touch does not imply it's an inaccurate statement, though. In 2015 55 % of the US voting block thought there was a need for the same or more emphasis on coal in power generation.


I do believe they are actual fulfillment center employees like they say. What's astonishing to me is that Amazon thought this was actually a good idea.


I think this program was a great idea because it gives Amazon a chance to defend itself by letting the people who have been accused of slave labor, speak for themselves about it. It lets the general public see the opinions of actual employees who work in fulfillment centers for Amazon.


My point was that the optics of it are terrible, as evidenced by the linked thread.


Also, I can definitely foresee normal people just putting the FC Ambassador Tag behind their name on twitter, getting the amazon banner, and just impersonating amazon employees. Say funny/offensive things, throw in a bit of amazon shade and you have a serious problem.

Who came up with this idea. Having normal people act as PR, replying to everything is a TERRIBLE idea, especially for a huge company. It makes your brand look way worse, especially when they happily engage in twitter fights.


I've seen them post before, but never in a group inside a long running thread like this before. Seeing their responses and then their profiles (small personal details to humanize them, but most of them follow 0 people) makes it so incredibly creepy.


Most online shill-bots are 1) bots, 2) outsourced to india/china/russia/rural US/etc.

They sound like real people who aren't PR execs because that's what they are. They're just hired by [3rd Party Marketing Firm] cuz they're stay at home moms or making use of Mechanical Turk for cash on the side.


According to this article, they're actual warehouse employees who tweet one day and work on the warehouse three other days:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/23/what-is-this-weird-twitter...


Is a normal warehouse schedule 4 tens?


shift work comes in all kinds of splits; it's pretty normal anywhere


I'm pretty sure it's data driven like the rest of Amazon, probably even operated similarly to MTurk. The borg effect comes from people getting assignments but not sticking around long enough to have an actual conversation.


Sounds like the same person talking from multiple accounts to me.


Frankly, I find it appalling that this person is being aggressive towards the people she is supposidly trying to "help". This isn't a "let's fight the man" kind of mentality, but a "You're not getting what you deserve, and I'll tell you what you need" kind of mentality - quite pretentious".

Having worked for a far lower minimum wage at 10 hours a day, I can understand Amazon employees plight. I also know two people working at the fulfillment centers and they were and are insanely grateful for the job(s).

It was the first time in their lives they had real, solid employment and took advantage of trainings, saved, etc. After seeing this and living my own experiences, honestly $15 / hour is probably overpaying for their labor. They are happy to have the job over paying them.

I think really only the employees should have a voice here. I don't think people from the outside really understand the situation. Unless you've lived that kind of life, it's difficult to relate. Same for the ultra-rich, I have no ability to empathize or comprehend their lives, living in the rat-race.


The accounts that she is replying to are people literally paid to post pro-amazon things on social media.

Also there is something else very fishy about the accounts, check this out. What do you think about this?

https://mobile.twitter.com/TheKenChilds/status/1161847717397...


It looks to me like a wall of talking points designed to shut down criticism, weirdly speaking in unison across multiple accounts. And even assuming, against appearances, that these are real workers, they are certainly not free to say what they want. This is Amazon's corporate voice, it can't possibly represent "the people she is supposidly trying to "help", and it's weird to me that people are conflating them.

> I think really only the employees should have a voice here.

Then let's give them a soap box free from the threat of repercussion and hear what they have to say. Maybe from an union representative?


I used to work a hard labor job. People got injured. I got injured more than once. Some people died. It was part of the job and we knew what we were getting into in exchange for money. It was the best way we had to make a living.

I don't know if conditions were as hard as working in an Amazon FC, but it was definitely hard work. We needed the money and appreciated the opportunity to earn a living.

If the media had decided that we were some kind of downtrodden worker class cause and had descended upon us to ask these kinds of antagonizing questions our answers would have been very much the same. I'm sure we would have answered back with our employers talking points when ridiculed for the type of work we were doing. People in tech do this all the time when they explain why they work at some tech company "changing the world".

This whole thing is in very poor taste. This public Amazon FC bashing feels very much like virtue signaling and I find it disgusting.


Amen.

I worked a similar job when I was out of college at FedEx. I unloaded trailers by hand, usually just 2 of us. We were expected to go nonstop until it was done, and our boxes per minute thru-put was closely monitored. It was hard, back breaking work & it paid minimum wage. I did it at the time because I didn't have many other opportunities. I imagine this is one of the best jobs available to these people, for one reason or another, otherwise they wouldn't voluntarily work there. Should this be the larger issue we are discussing?

I did find the whole exchange very gross. Some girl who thinks she knows everything about what it's like working at Amazon from reading a few news articles. She was very rude and mean to those people. Kind of ironic she's 'fighting' to improve those peoples working conditions, meanwhile (while they are working) she's actively directing nasty comments and leading others to do the same.

We all know it feels bad when people give negative comments on social media. How does she think those folks will feel when they go home after a full day of negativity directed at them from strangers on the internet?


It doesn't matter to her so since she is not doing the back breaking jobs anyway. Part of the equality movements should be directed to the fact that there are not enough women doing dangerous and physical labor.


It is disgusting. But it is because we are collectively diving into a dead horse.

Amazon FCs pay minimum wage, and even if some people truly appreciate the money, it's not because it's great, but because it's the best thing available. Which is an absolute shame of social support.

(And to reply regarding the media picking a working class hero as an interview subject: I still remember vividly the summer jobs I did fifteen years ago (detasseling corn). At the time I thought how great the money is. I remember how fortunate we felt to earn more than other farm workers, and that what we did was obviously the hardest work, hence the highest wage. Never mind it was paid under the table.)


... imagine this the other way. Imagine that "@rulesObeyer" is the one with the agenda. Imagine RO is paid by a competitor to spread misinformation and "stir the pot", then re-read the thread. Suddenly RO seems incapable of reason or adapting in the face of clear evidence against its assertions. It makes for a fun read.

(Similarly, "anyone condemning this comment or defending @rulesObeyer must just be @rulesObeyer in disguise, no matter the evidence to the contrary.")


Not seeing it. RO is speaking like a real person with pretty reasonable arguments; the others feel like exactly what she accuses them of being: paid shills.


>are you a robot, did they make a bunch of ai to lie for them instead of helping real workers

Talking to a real human this way is not reasonable. Nor is it an argument.

>how much are you compensated per tweet like this

This is like the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" When the assumption of malintent/guilt is there from the start, you're setting yourself up for a very unreasonable conversation.

>so they’re paying you to tweet that you like your job, which is tweeting about liking your job...lol yes!! you are paid to say that you like your job. it’s your job!

This is very likely false, and she is actively ignoring people who are saying it is false.

I have to agree with GP. While I found the ambassador tweets to be, well, weird, her tweets are the ones that stood out to me as very unreasonable. She does not seem at all interested in anything that contradicts her world view.


It isn't false that they're paid to tweet. One of the Amazon borg replies they tweet for two days (at $15/hour) then work in the warehouse for two days.


>It isn't false that they're paid to tweet.

Which is not the allegation being made.


Put some effort in then, because I have no idea what hair you're trying to split.


They are essentially compensated for tweets. They are paid hourly to tweet. And have to be tweeting positive things regularly per hour. Essentially the same thing.

The part about saying they like their job is true. The guidelines for them is everything has to be positive.


>>so they’re paying you to tweet that you like your job, which is tweeting about liking your job...lol yes!! you are paid to say that you like your job. it’s your job!

>This is very likely false, and she is actively ignoring people who are saying it is false.

She's technically correct in the same way that it's technically correct to say that if I take a restroom break while on the clock that I'm getting paid to use the restroom.


Some ambasssador in the thread says she tweets two days and works in the warehouse two days. So it's not really comparable to using the bathroom.


Let me put this another way:

If, during the course of doing my job, someone asks me if I like doing my job and I say, "yes", it would technically be correct to say that I was paid for saying that I like my job (since I'm being paid for doing all the things that I do while on the clock it's also technically correct to say that I was paid for tying my shoes or talking to a coworker about some movie if I did those things during a shift). That does not necessarily mean that one of my job duties is telling people how much I like my job.


They dodge like politicians.


The "Amazon Ambassadors" look extremely sketchy even without anyone criticizing them, though. They don't use Twitter except to praise Amazon, they are universally 100% positive without a single complaint, they all echo a few specific talking points, and they openly admit to being paid to make these tweets. (One of them claims that spending two paid days a week tweeting instead of working the warehouse floor doesn't count as "being paid to tweet," but come on.)

Even if @rulesObeyer is also a paid shill, all they're doing is drawing attention to the obvious.


Imagine RO is a former Amazon employee who was severely injured on the job and fired, whose life was destroyed by this faceless company, and who resents the sentiment that it is anything but. It is also a fun read imagining them this way.

Yes, if the situation was different, than my judgement of it would be different. This is not a novel observation.

The context matters - you cannot decouple[0] this interaction from the economic and social structures it arose from.

[0] https://everythingstudies.com/2018/05/25/decoupling-revisite...


Doesn't change the creepiness and pithiness factor of the Amazon FC Ambassador idea at all.


Does rather show how important it is to have good personal heuristics for "this is a real person's account speaking authentically", which is very difficult to verify for strangers.


Precisely. We're even psychologically inclined to agree with RO because "it" is "fighting the good fight" and "fighting The Man", etc. Whether she's legitimately exactly who she says she is or "it" is just a next-level PR AI whose sole purpose is harming Amazon, we have little way of knowing, especially outside this specific example.


On the other hand, this obfuscatory conversation and the allegation that random individual accounts are paid anti-corporate is one that adds to the weight for "inanutshellus may be an Amazon shill account, or at least employee"


Yeah, if this makes front page the odds are nearly 100% that paid amazon shills will fill the comments -- and odds are greater than 50% that it already has been.


I'm a paid anti-corporate shill, and so is my wife!


"legitimately exactly who she says she is" as if the timeline of her twitter account didn't lend to her identity. Especially in contrast to the Amazon FC accounts which are brand new and follow 0 other twitter users.


I am kind of shocked at the conversation above simply because of how evidently right you are.

Does she have an agenda? Yes clearly. She isn't hiding it. She has a long history of laying it right out in the open.

Does Amazon have an agenda too? Yes and they are ham-handedly trying to pretend they don't.


We're inclined to agree with RO because her account looks genuine, whereas the Amazon accounts look like this: https://mobile.twitter.com/TheKenChilds/status/1161847717397...


This is exactly what I’d say if I was trying to make myself feel better about a messed-up status quo.


Whatever side you choose to accept as reasonable, is does still feel like she is talking to the borg.

And yes, the Amazon people talk like politicians. There are actually many people that think politician-talking inspires confidence.


A similar thought occurred to me, but it was more in the vein of “what if this person is sockpuppeting on Twitter?” Like a socratic dialogue. It could even be based on real interactions, just reconstructed.

I don’t actually believe that’s what’s happening but it’d be tough to prove one way or the other, if you’re dealing with a sufficiently motivated actor. One of many good reasons not to take social media seriously.


I, for one, welcome our lizard overlords.


Our robot overlords will not be pleased to hear that you are still hanging onto the lizard overlords. Just saying...


Who do you think built the robot overlords? The robots are obvious shills for the lizards.


That's a whole new spin for me!


Nice try Jeff Bezos!


There should be an xkcd comic about that thought (if there isn't already one).


> Suddenly RO seems incapable of reason or adapting in the face of clear evidence against its assertions

Yes, all of that "evidence" from paid "Amazon FC ambassadors".


Can somebody explain how to parse the page linked here? This seems like deeplinking Intl the middle of a conversation.

Side note: it feels like Twitter specifically has done immeasurable damage to the discourse. Why does the communication have to be presented so confusingly? To an outsider it seems like it’s to create maximum outrage/confusion/dopamine response. That’s much scarier to me than a customer service team.


I see this complaint a lot, but I absolutely disagree. It's a conversation back and forth between "Diana Wilde @rulesObeyer" and a series of different accounts in the format @AmazonFC<Name>, culminating in "Diana" saying the tweet that was linked. The lines connecting the tweets very clearly show the flow of responses. There are instances where conversations can be hard to follow if you're not involved, because the replies are more of trees than lists, but this is really not one of those cases.


I agree with you about the tree-like conversations. It would be great if there were a site or a an app that could display them AS trees.


Some of the FC Ambassador accounts may not be genuine.

E.g. I'm fairly sure Slavoj Žižek isn't working in an Amazon warehouse.

Then again - we're all in this gig economy thing, so maybe anything is possible.


There are some people memeing with the names, but you can recognise them because their account names don't follow the same pattern as the shill accounts.


Žižek is a rather famous philosopher and frequently engages in public discourse. Might be worth it to check his Wikipedia page[1] and/or YouTube presence.

Not saying this is he himself, but obviously not an Amazon employee at least.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoj_%C5%BDi%C5%BEek


Came here to ask the same. Twitter is utterly unreadble to me. Since they are linked to quite often, I once wanted to give them feedback that their website is pretty bad and _really_ annoying to use with a browser since they nag and nag and nag about using their app instead (just like reddit). Well, that was fruitless since they of course wanted me to have an account for that... The web is not as good nowadays unfortunately.

Can't people stop linking to Twitter? Not everyone uses twitter, and to non-users, their website sucks.


So when something of interest (to someone) happens on Twitter it should what? Be ignored? Be summarized without including a link?

You are not required to read every post on HN, and you can see on the front page which ones go to sites you don't like.


> So when something of interest (to someone) happens on Twitter it should what? Be ignored? Be summarized without including a link?

Yes? For non-users, it's only marginally less bad than a Facebook page that requires a login, and people mostly don't go aronud sharing links to Facebook threads.


I’d go with summarized, perhaps with a link. That’s what you are supposed to do if an article you want to link to has a horrible (but not link-bait) title. In this case it has horrible design, it’s no so different.


What would it be OK for people to link to?


Things you can read with a browser, not things requiring you to run some proprietary software.


You can read Twitter.com in a browser.


Yes, but it is so crippled that they might just as well show you a big "Fuck you" instead.

(Sorry)


I only use Twitter in a browser. I haven’t seen any issue.



Normally I hate news articles that consists just of other peoples tweets, but this was actually useful.


Broken for me, too. Twitter's UI is awful. Altering the URL to 'm.twitter.com' worked for me, as I can now see the topmost comment by 'Amazon News'


These accounts are not costumer service, they are specifically paid to talk up how nice it is to work for Amazon, amidst reports of incredibly terrible working conditions.


Scroll up and read downward. The UI allows you to link to a particular spot and then scroll to the top to read rest of context in chronological order.


Just... scroll up for the earlier parts of the thread?


Scroll up, hit the top, start reading.


Tried that. Top message:

Diana Wilde @rulesObeyer

16h16 hours ago Replying to @AmazonFCRafael

are you a robot, did they make a bunch of ai to lie for them instead of helping real workers

So still diving into the middle of a conversation.


You might be hitting a twitter bug or having an issue with their slightly weird phased loading, the top message I get is from 'Amazon News':

> Come take a free tour at an Amazon fulfillment center and see what our warehouses are really like. Check out the locations and reserve your spot online. #AmazonFCTours

Then Diane replies to that and the back-and-forth with Amazon employees begins.


I got the same as treerock, the news article posted elsewhere in this thread is useful for context


I got the actual start, but there's some scrolljacking going on: it took significantly longer to reach the top than it did to go back down to the "borg" tweet. Maybe you did hit the real top, then were immediately bounced back down?


That doesn't get me to something that looks like the start of a conversation.


You scroll up, and then read each tweet.

I refuse to believe HN users are this genuinely ignorant about such a basic website. It's really nowhere near as hard to read as anyone here makes it out to be.


The first tweet when I scroll up is an answer in the middle of the conversation. The actual start isn't visible. And if I need to scroll up in order to understand anything, why not load the page from the top instead of jumping to some random place? It's almost like any basic website does this better.


Because a user chose to link to a particular section?

Do you also complain when you get directly linked to a particular line of code in github or a readme?


I took your advice, and the fifth message in the list (by "@amazonfcrafael") starts with "(2/2)". I don't see the (1/2) of that message, so it seems parts of the conversation are missing and I'm looking at some kind of automatically generated subset of all the relevant tweets. But I guess I'm "ignorant"...


That’s the Amazon “ambassador” doing a bad job


That's because the amazon bots are bad and don't know how to reply to themselves properly.


Perhaps a lot more people are genuinely ignorant about a "basic website" than you'd think.


It's buggy, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Looks like the redesign still had some issues to shake out. No need to suggest that the commenters are ignorant.


>I refuse to believe HN users are this genuinely ignorant about such a basic website.

You sound a lot like @rulesObeyer.


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