When Amazon rolled out its new Dash button, lots of people initially thought it was an April Fools' joke. Ian Crouch of the New Yorker wishes it were. The Dash is a physical button linked to a specific product that you place around your home; if you're running low on Tide detergent, just hit the button near the washer and, poof, it's ordered and on the way. Amazon's explanatory video, however, is a little depressing, writes Crouch. All those products, all that mindless consumerism. "It’s the kind of montage that a movie director would use to show just how sad and soulless a character’s life was," he writes.
"And the idea of shopping buttons placed just within our reach conjures an uneasy image of our homes as giant Skinner boxes, and of us as rats pressing pleasure levers until we pass out from exhaustion." The Dash essentially takes the thinking out of shopping, and the next iteration, in which products will order themselves, will be even worse. When we run out of garbage bags, for instance, shouldn't we take a moment to wonder if we want the same brand, or, in the bigger picture, if we're generating too much trash? Going shopping "is a check against the inertia of consumption," in both financial and ethical ways, and the Dash takes that away. Click for the full column. (Read more Amazon stories.)