Amazon’s bravado was startling for its message, but also because it represents a departure from expected online corporate behavior. On social media, brands have been evolving from public-relations automatons to your cool friends. When Walmart posts about a “moment of zen … brought to you by our spring stock up essentials,” it’s just doing vanilla-flavored marketing. But when Slim Jim, the beef-stick company, sasses Steak-umm, the frozen-beef-sheet seller, over supposedly subliminal 69s in a post, it is striving to embody a personality that might resonate with customers.
Amazon’s straight-up aggression broke so much from these two common patterns that one Amazon engineer even submitted a support ticket, concerned that the Amazon News Twitter account had been hacked. It’s shocking to see a company act like an online troll instead.
It shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s long past time that citizens stop construing online brands, and the companies their messages represent, as clever human interlocutors, be they catty or chatty. Which brings me back to my theory: In a backwards way, and certainly unintentionally, Amazon’s weird behavior is liberating us from the affliction of building affable relationships with corporations. It’s a reminder that although companies have basically become people in our lives, those people might very well be assholes.