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Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Updated: Jan 18

This is about books, but the idea behind it is broader than that. The message is simple, and it is in the title but how it plays out can have more than a little nuance. Put your money (and your time) where your mouth is.

Let’s start with examples, THEN we will get to the caveats.

“I hate Jeff Bezos. Nobody should be that rich.”

-          Then stop buying things on Amazon. Shop locally when you can and search online ELSEWHERE when you must.

“I believe in libraries. They are good for the community, and we should have more of them.”

-          Then go to one occasionally. Even if just for their events.

“I wish there were more authors in the world.”

-          Then buy their books. Buy any books. Digital, paperback, anything. Drive the market.

“I wish the quality of TV shows on XYZ was better.”

-          Then stop watching the entire series and complaining about it. Do something else with your time more worthwhile. Stop after 2 episodes of dreck.

“I wish there were more bookstores.”

-          Patronize the ones that exist and never buy a book online unless the website is for a store which has a book and mortar storefront. Every bookstore on earth can buy you any book straight from the publisher.

“I wish AI wouldn’t replace writers and artists.”

-          Then don’t use it.

“I wish ….”

-          Then take action.

We have already talked about how what you read online can greatly change the fate of the world, and steer it. The same is true of how you spend your money and your time outside of the digital world. Authors are struggling to survive. Artists in general are in that boat. They have always been forced to a margin, dependent on patrons, but now they also have to compete with AI, and dropping pay and at least in America, inflation. But we can save artists if we collectively decide to.

Put your money where your mouth is, is simply a call for people to behave in the manner that they wish the world worked.

My wife and I gave up almost all TV / Netflix / Hulu / (fill in your option here), more than 15 years ago. We watch a minimum required to bs conversant with current society and no more. Why? Because we had a wish. We wished that the writing was better or the quality higher and the content less political across both sides. When we couldn’t find it, we simply stopped.

My wife and I gave up on Amazon. Almost completely. We once received more than 60 % of things we bought from Amazon, now it is less than 5 % and then only after we spend time looking everywhere else for what we wanted. Why? Because we, like many, thought perhaps Amazon was in fact a monopoly and had too much hold on the market. They do drive small people out of business. We took action and put our money where our mouth was.

My wife and I started to click on the information bar in the top of a google search. Ever notice how Google tells you the answer without you having to go to the site? Yeah, that site gets no credit for the information you were just shown. Only Google does. They don’t get the advertisement space for traffic. Google, by this and other mechanics, drives control of what is seen and how the internet works. We decided we will always visit the site, because it helps the site’s authors. It takes less than 30 seconds of my time.

There are other examples, but in short it goes to the message I have said many other times. You are more powerful than you think, and people in groups are the most powerful economic force, not governments or laws. Put your money where your mouth is means to behave in accordance with the world you want to see.

Now for the caveats. “I can’t afford to buy books; I have to pirate them.” No, that is what libraries are for. Libraries will buy them for you and libraries are free. You can have your books and you can have the existence of authors.

“I can’t not use AI; the world is turning to AI and I need to understand it for my job.” Fair, to a degree, but you can seek out and support companies which are not using AI to thwart the destruction of artists. They exist now. You can try to use AI in a manner which you believe to be ethical for the creatives which already exist.

“I can’t afford to buy from anywhere but Amazon, they are cheaper.” Yes, they are. But really? If you have 10 things to buy, Amazon will be cheaper by pennies and fractions of dollars here and there, but can you get those things elsewhere to keep the world you want afloat and have 9 things instead for the same price? Sometimes the answer might be no, you need all 10, that’s fine. I am asking those who espouse to dislike institutions like Amazon or Walmart who can afford to make the change to make the change.

I want books to exist. I want reading to remain a staple of the world. I try to behave in a manner commensurate with that. What have you done recently to make sure the world you live in looks like the world you want? It might take work. In fact, it almost certainly will take some small effort. But trust me, that effort is worth it.

Buy a book with that gift certificate you might have gotten. Read. Find the author’s webpage and tell them you liked their book. Small things matter.

"One whisper, added to a thousand others, becomes a roar of discontent."


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Anna Varlese
Anna Varlese
Dec 26, 2023

What a great reminder that the things we do, and even more the things we don't do can have an impact.

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