I’m boycotting the very idea

Posted by on August 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm.

Call me lazy, naive or whatever you want, but I’m growing tired of boycotts.

I, like every other 23-year-old, am full of strong feelings (among other things), and for the past couple years generally stuck to my Wal-Mart boycott. My reasons were simple enough: Wal-Mart donates a lot of money to politicians, and when you combine huge corporate chains (and mass amounts of money) with politics, I feel like only bad things can happen.

So, I didn’t shop at Wal-Mart. Of course, I didn’t look up Target’s spending, or Kroger’s, or any other company I support. I just felt like I had to take a stand for something I believed in, even if it was a flimsy feeling.

But I’m drawing the line here and now. My friends are getting rid of their iPhones because of something evil Apple does. Other friends are boycotting Google because of something evil it’s about to start doing. I’m dating Gwen the Vegetarian, who is a vegetarian because the food industry is wacked-up and she doesn’t believe in senselessly killing animals (among other reasons). Others boycott BP because of the oil spill. America boycotts Cuba because Cuba is Cuba. When does it end!?

I can’t keep up. I’m on the verge of discontinuing my commitment to caring about corporate PR.

I remember my first doubts about a boycott. My family boycotted Target one year because a holiday commercial said “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” … “Okay,” I thought … “Here’s something I can get behind. I’ll join the boycott!” I was like 13 or something, and definitely never bought anything anywhere anyway. Target probably didn’t miss me too much.

Several years later, while sitting in my Community of Faith pew in Herrin, Illinois, I learned of another boycott. This time we would boycott Ford, because, damnit, they aired a commercial showing two men holding hands (or something similar, anyway .. it was really ridiculous). The pastor was alerted to an e-mail that morning and felt the need to voice it to the entire church. He also said he didn’t want to tell us how to vote in the upcoming election, but to remember that there was one presidential candidate who openly supported the gay community and wanted to destroy “traditional American values,” and another who didn’t.

This is a big of a tangent here, but Barack Obama isn’t really the biggest supporter of the gay community. During his campaign, he said he would support a law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, but he still believed a marriage was between a man and a woman. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hasn’t been repealed yet, either, but I don’t really know where it is in the process. The point is it’s not like Obama is a champion of the gay community, even though that’s how he’s portrayed sometimes … but I digress.

Back to the church thing — The pastor told us to boycott Ford, everyone amened, and he ended his speech. A few moments later, a gentleman in the congregation stood up and had a question about the boycott. He was a Ford car salesman for a local dealer, and asked how old the e-mail was. Apparently it was two or more years old, and the Christian activists who started the boycott had already ended it because Ford addressed their needs somehow. So, five minutes after our boycott started, the boycott ended.

I don’t really know who to boycott or why, and it’s not because I’m dumb. I actually spend a lot of time researching these types of things, but I bet I can find a fault in every company. I guarantee you there is a product on Target’s shelves that came from a company that allows child labor, or donates money to terrorist groups, or something. How do we fight back?

Regardless, I’m not going to shop at Wal-Mart anyway, if only because I hate the long lines and the awful customer service. Other than that, I have no idea what cause to join or boycott to participate in. If anyone has a suggestion, feel free to add a comment. I’m interested in hearing about your causes anyway, even if I’m too naive or lazy to join them.


  • Eddie Kirsch says:

    Hey Ryan, first of all, congratulations on your new job.

    To me, it doesn’t seem tiring that people boycott things- even if they boycott things I strongly support. Everyone has values and if there is one thing I believe as an American that I am obligated to do, it is to respect that they have those values, even if I completely disagree with what they are.
    Underlying boycotts is a negative expression of values (I value this, therefore I’m not going to do this), and personally I think it is imperative to act for what you value, even if the results might be only symbolic.

  • Patty Martin says:

    I guess I’m just too lazy to do any boycotting. It takes too much time and energy to research everything and I’m tired of taking “so and so’s” word that it should be done anyway. I’m more inclined to support the causes I DO believe in. I have, I do and I will continue to do what I can to support Breast Cancer awareness. I do however have a great deal of respect for those who stand up for what they believe is right even if I don’t agree.

  • jody wissing says:

    I’m enjoying your blog. I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, other than groceries and toiletries and blogging it at trashsociety.com. It’s an interesting process. I had to go into WalMart today for work and I blogged about the experience. http://1trashsociety.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/superstores-superhoards-day-79/

    I agree that there’s bad in all companies, but I like your question, “How do we fight back?” One of the ways I do is to support the small businesses in my area.

    Thanks for your post!

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