May 8, 2014
Amazon now lets you buy pre-moistened toilet wipes on Twitter. Great. Important news. Great.
by Dustin Kurtz
Have you ever stared up at the sky for a while and just willed with all your might that a massive meteor—like, Chicxulub Crater massive—would come barreling through the atmosphere straight at you and eradicate the civilization to which you’re a guilty party? No, no me either. Of course not.
So, big news, Amazon has rolled out a new feature to let you buy things through Twitter—mostly moist butt wipes for adults, I imagine.
True to Amazon’s penchant for opaque or mysterious branding, the new feature is called #Amazoncart. It allows you to place items into your Amazon ‘cart’. One simply connects their Twitter account to their Amazon account and then, whenever you come across a tweet containing a link to an Amazon product you’d like to purchase, you tweet a reply with the appropriate hashtag. More than a nod at customer service, it seems at this stage to be being used in low-level marketing efforts, and as such is more likely to earn the recently flagging Twitter a bump in their ‘promoted tweet’ revenues than it is to bring in hefty sales for Amazon itself. That will likely change as Twitter consumers grow used to the process.
Amazon is not the first to do this. As CNET‘s Donna Tam points out, Weibo has a similar function in place, run through Alibaba.
Or, sometimes, maybe you just picture the aftermath of the meteor. Maybe you just imagine a wall of water coming in from the sea, taller than any building around you, loud enough to drown all noise, all speech. Maybe you imagine the relief that would wash over you as the shadow of that wave falls across your face. I don’t know, maybe you’re strange for thinking that. Probably. Probably that’s strange.
Interestingly, many of the early adopters of AmazonCart as a marketing tool seem to be self published authors. As books are rarely blind purchases—physical books are slathered with endless summaries and blurbs for a reason—it seems unlikely that someone with interest wouldn’t simply click through to learn more about the book, thus obviating the need for AmazonCart. And the tool doesn’t really solve Amazon’s issue with discovery. Saving objects you see for later purchase may be easier now, but if you don’t see them in the first place, it’s still no use. Of course if a decade and a half of online social media has taught us anything it’s that there are always people willing to ‘like’ detergent brands on Facebook or follow oddly sarcastic indie publishing houses on Twitter, and I suspect the AmazonCart tool will me used most by them.
Imagine a crack opening beneath your feet. Imagine falling, face up, into the vast hungry maw of the earth, and as you fall, above you, around you, you see cars, buildings, endless spools of wire, tumbling in after you into a cool dark, a rupture so wide and deep that the world itself falls in piece by piece and you’re left with nothing but to wait for the walls of that hole to slowly rise up around you and the sky to narrow and the dark to come. I mean, if you want. Imagine it if you want, I guess.
Of course privacy is an issue with this tool. Anyone using Amazon should have no illusions of privacy generally, but on Twitter those objects you choose to add to your cart will be visible to everyone, not just Uncle Jeff. This means that not only will anyone who cares to look know which brand of extra moist lavender-scented toilet rag you prefer, but you’ll be forced into a strange camaraderie with the person to whose initial lavender poop sponge tweet you’re responding.
More than its immediate worth—and as any site run on Amazon Affiliate links could tell you, these schemes only have to sell one appliance or bulk package of pre-moistened aloe-infused nether neatener to pan out—AmazonCart is also a scheme to expand Amazon’s omnipresence. Whereas other companies would like you to talk about their products on Twitter, Amazon is working to make sure that every conversation is potentially mercantile, and taking place within their store. They’re changing the use value of words in your very conversations.
Do you ever breathe out slowly and imagine that the noise of that exhale in your ears is not inside of you but out, a vast wind from everywhere and nowhere, impossibly loud, a fist of noise, a noise to level everything we’ve built, to uproot girders and grind glass into dust and wipe the rest into the sea, you with it, us with it, and even then unending, never ending, just a vast wind ceaseless? Yeah.
Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.