I Do Declare


I started toying with vegetarianism, which is to say “actively feeling bad for being a carnivore, but not doing much more than that” after watching the documentary Food, Inc. in 2008. I hated that feeling. It was clear that I needed to make this change. And I really, really loved (and still do, I think) steak and bacon and ribs and tartare and, well, you get the picture.

In 2008, I decided I would limit my meat eating to only locally sourced and grass-fed meat and dairy. That worked for a while, but it started to wear thin after a few more documentaries and a bit more internal transformation.

It would be a full 10 years later before I finally committed to vegetarianism and honestly, I didn’t commit even then. I decided I would try it and see how it went. I’m now a little over two years into the experiment and I think my meat days are solidly over.

I will always miss bacon, but not as much as I like knowing that my values line up with my actions. (Maybe I’ll even become vegan at some point, but cheese remains one of the primary reasons I get up in the morning. Change is slow.) Feel free to bombard me with information about the ills of dairy and honey. I’m ready.

Now you know more about me than maybe you want to know, but lest you think I’m trying to win you over to vegetarianism, stick with me.

Today, I’m actually thinking about people and our declarations.

I love people. We’re hilariously self-righteous and completely unable to get the point sometimes and even more unable to reconcile the competing truths of “it’s not about me” and “it’s all about me.”

Lately, I have seen a rash of declarations on Facebook from people who, largely inspired by the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, are getting off of Facebook and other social media platforms. I applaud these people. Truly. Social media is brain bacon. Not an easy thing to give up.

I recently made such a declaration of my own about Amazon. I have disliked my relationship with Amazon for years, but I’d finally hit the wall. I knew they had some questionable practices and honestly, I didn’t like how the one-click consumption felt inside me.

Following along with my vegetarian metaphor, let’s be clear. I thought about steak and hamburgers and even hot dogs and salami pretty much every day for the first 6 months after I abandoned my carnivorous ways. Such easy protein. So familiar. So salty and tasty and satisfying. I kept on, though and now my pangs for meat are rare. I feel increasingly solid in my decision.

This pulling away from Amazon feels the same.

It’s been so awesome (if not a little disturbing) to order cat litter at 8am and to have it ON my doorstep by 2pm the same day! With free shipping! Anything I could ever want was available, cheaper than anywhere else. Prime was like a gateway drug. I had become accustomed to ignoring shipping costs entirely.

I’m just two months into my “no more Amazon” situation and I have to tell you it makes life less convenient, but I am spending way less and I really think about what I need when I go to buy something. If I order online, I do have to pay for shipping or it’s $2 or $3 or $5 more expensive from a non-Amazon business. Often, I just don’t buy it or I go down to a real store in town to get whatever it is. It feels more in balance for the way I want to live my life and it feels like one small thing I can do to remove myself from what feels like a giant tide of ills in our world.

I shared my decision publicly for a couple of reasons. I wanted to let others who have been on the same fence I was on that this choice is one that can be made and that a relatively sane person they know could and did make it. My FB chums could see that a person who has a child, a business and is busy enough to “justify” the ease of Amazon was giving an Amazon-free life a try. I also shared it because I wanted to hold myself accountable. When you say it out loud, it’s real. I didn’t want it to be like my always-failed annual resolution to floss my teeth every day that I never share because I know I won’t do it. This felt important to me, so I wanted to be “out” about it.

Do I hope that you’ll join me? Definitely. Do I think you will? Maybe not. Will I judge you if you keep using Amazon? Nope. You live your life. I’ll live my life. We can learn from each other without shaming and blaming. We all have our things we can no longer abide. When we share about our experiences of hitting those walls, we move each other. We might move toward each other. We might move away, but we are all connected. Nothing happens in a vacuum. If my desertion of Amazon feels like an invitation to you, I welcome you to join me. If it feels like a challenge to your character, that might not be about me.