Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pondering Stuff and Things


 The other day a blogger who is fairly well-known in the indie makeup online world posted some swatches of eyeshadows from a small, relatively unknown company. She made some fairly benign comments in the post about being unimpressed with the colours – essentially that they were nice but basic – and she didn’t feel that the ‘full’ jars had much product in them, and therefore she would not make any further purchases. As she generally does, the blogger then posted the swatch post on Reddit. For most of a day there were only one or two comments, and the post may have eventually disappeared from my Reddit front page, but then the company owner showed up, and all hell broke loose. There was a lot of back and forth with the blogger and the business owner throwing accusations at each other (which seemed to stem from a misunderstanding about the anonymity of Etsy reviews), and after a while ‘two’ loyal customers (though judging by the identical spelling errors, it appears to have been one) weighed in, hurling abuse at everyone while raving about the super awesomeness of the products and how dare anyone not love them. (Sidenote: This was actually the most entertaining part because this person seemed to assume that everyone should know who she (the customer) was and became quite irate when people said they had no idea. I had never heard of her so I Googled – 23 followers on Twitter. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a superstar makeup artist in our midst.)

Although it did end up getting out of hand in what is normally an extremely polite and respectful community (on Reddit – I know, right!), it was an amusing shit storm to watch while it lasted, and the business owner revealed a lot more about herself and her lack of professionalism than she probably ever meant to. I’m sure I’m not the only person who decided after her first couple of comments that she was a bit of a drama monger and probably best avoided.

So I’ve been thinking about this and some other things that have happened of late, and I wonder at what point or for what reason people decide to take their money elsewhere, when it is the business owner/s rather than the product who are seen as sub-par for whatever reason. I have a problem giving my money to someone I don’t like. That someone could be an individual person like an Etsy seller who wants to start a public brawl over some really very mild criticism, or a large company like Gloria Jeans, which has made financial donations to the Australian Christian Lobby, an ultra rightwing religious lobby group that wants us all back in the 1950s when being gay was considered a mental disorder and women knew their place. In short, if I know something I don’t like about whoever is behind a particular store or a product, I will not give them my money. There is an element of hypocrisy there of course – I am sure I’m handing money over to lots of big companies who engage in all kinds of shenanigans, but I’m not aware of them so I go about my merry way. I don’t go out of my way to find out what’s going on in the background. Maybe I should, but that seems exhausting, and there’s a small part of me that fears I’d have nothing left to buy ever. I’m pretty judgemental and it doesn’t take much to put me off. Sometimes I just wish I didn’t know so I could keep happily shopping.

Case in point: Within the last 12 months I have discovered that the owners of two indie companies I had previously thought very highly of have some political views that – well, frankly they are pretty gross, in my opinion. It’s no secret that I am a bleeding-heart lefty and a borderline socialist when it comes to looking after the whole of society, so when I see reams and reams of ranting about gun rights (in the weeks after Sandy Hook, no less) and how evil Obamacare is (along with memes likening Obama to a monkey – super classy!), or someone speaking proudly of the Confederate flag – as well known as the Southern Cross for its problematic symbolism - then I’m not going to look on that kindly. And I’m not American, so some people might just say “Butt out,” but you know what – we are saturated with America these days. I probably know more about American politics than I do about Australian. Not only that, but to me wrong is wrong – it doesn’t matter if it’s in the US, Australia, the UK, the Middle East, or wherever. When it comes to opinion, let’s just say I’m definitely not into cultural relativism.

So that was a very long-winded way of saying that since discovering personal things about the owners of companies I had previously liked a lot, I feel I can no longer in good conscience hand my money over to them. And in addition to that, if I get the slightest whiff that a business owner is going to be one of those dramariffic types that unfortunately the indie beauty world seems to foster, then I don’t want a bar of them either.

Now, tell me how you feel – would you buy from a big or small business whose personal philosophies were anathema to you if you loved the products they provided? Do you think I over-react by taking my money and going elsewhere? It won’t change my mind if you do, but you can say it. ;-)

Perhaps there should be a part two for this post – a definitive list of the people who are dead to me because they signed the Roman Polanski support petition (looking at you, Johnny Depp). 

6 comments:

  1. Those types of review-then-argue incidents are all too common now. I think they say a fair bit about a decline in manners that the online world and its relative anonymity contribute to.

    I'm a swinger. In the sense of, I won't buy products where I know and disagree with some of the background, however I would rarely bother to research each company I buy products from. For example, Temptalia posted a great piece on why she wouldn't review the NARS Guy Bourdin collection because of its themes re violence towards women. After I read it (and agreed with her points), I knew I wouldn't buy from that collection on principle. But I also buy a lot of make up from companies that I'm sure test on animals at some point, a practice I'm not wholly comfortable with. I've never really done any research in this area and I doubt I could be bothered.

    I think people have their most important, core issues or personal experiences and stick to their guns on those. The rest kinda gets lost along the way or hidden and unresearched by consumers.

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    1. People don't seem to understand these days that even when you run your own business you still need to be professional. The customers are not your friends, and they should be able to give an honest opinion without being attacked. (And as you and I have discussed before, customers who review products OWE an honest opinion or what's the point.)

      I'm the same as you - I try not to look too closely because it's tiring. But if I happen across something I dislike I generally can't ignore it, no matter how much I might love the products themselves.

      I didn't know about the NARS collection thing - I must go read up on that!

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  2. You know I'm with you on this one. We discussed this same topic earlier this year, so I'm guessing one of those companies is the same one I started feeling icky buying from (which sucked because I really liked the product!). Like you, I don't try to seek out such information, but once I see it, the bell can't be unrung. I don't expect indie sellers to be superpeople and "ON" 24/7, they are real, fallible people, after all, but there are some things I just can't tolerate, mostly the things you have named, since we seem to be on the same page socio-politically. I imagine there may be some indies that harbor beliefs in opposition to my own, but they are so professional I would never get a whiff of it, so I can deal with that, with it being an "unknown." Faced with verbal or written proof, however, I just can't feel the same way about them again.

    I get the same horrible feeling when family members post "yay guns" and "drug test welfare recipients" and "must be a liberal" type memes. I want so badly to post something like "hey, auntie or cousin so-and-so, you know you aren't just posting these things to a big empty void, right? You're actually actively insulting a family member you consider a "friend." " I could be passive aggressive and just post something asserting the opposite view on my page or just defriend them, but I don't think it would be worth the ensuing drama and I'm really not so great with conflict anyway. It bothers me that I feel stifled though while they can spout their ignorance to the high heavens. I try to ignore and am mostly successful, but then again, I'm not handing them money for their products and giving them my seal of approval. So yes, I'm going to take control over what I support when I can, how I can.

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    1. Oh. I ended up deleting my facebook so I could escape the ratbag element of the family members without creating drama! Then I started my account again a few months later and didn't tell anyone.

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  3. I agree, if I find out by chance a company or person who I'm involved with is an unethical, right wing douchebag I don't go back for more. But like you I don't go researching into it because really I don't want to find out that everything I like is supporting eeeeeevil.

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    1. It would be so much easier if everyone would just stop being dickheads!

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