Tuesday, November 30, 2010


What's So Bad About Bad Gifts?

So, Amazon has this new thing that allows you to deflect awful gifts and turn them into gift certificates without the so-and-so who got them for you knowing about it and being offended. It's called a "gift conversion system," and it's not quite ready yet.

This all sounds fine to me. But a Reuters contributor, who's by day an etiquette expert, thinks there's nothing wrong with bad gifts, and goes so far to say that Amazon's new feature is "brilliant technology sadly run amok." Further:

It seems to me that the system of clicking a button in order to indulge our self-centeredness so sterilizes gift-giving relationships that we end up inadvertently deleting our humanity.

"Deleting our humanity"! But most people are lazy, and instead of doing something productive with crap they don't like, they'll probably have it lie around the house until they move, at which point it will go in the trash. Freecycling is a becoming pretty popular, and it works like a charm, but the thing you're selling has to be desired by another in order for it to work. Case in point, a recent posting in Berkeley's Freecycle newsletter listed a "lizard doorbell, still in box," and I don't think anyone ever came to pick that little guy up.

11 Comments / Post A Comment

Miranda Everitt

I just wanna note! A food bank in my area is doing something kindasorta like that? Where you send an "E-Card" to your loved ones asking them to donate instead of buying you a bad gift.
I think it's totally cute and I do plan to incorporate "I GAVE TO A CHARITY I THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE" into my adult gift-giving this year, because dudes I don't know what you need/want and I trust you to know that better than me.

Liz Colville

I love that idea! I really think people should not give each other gifts, except for when my sister buys me a Kindle. After that...


This is nice in theory, but when your totally broke college roommate gets a letter from her rich-but-batshit grandfather that states "In honor of Christ's birth, I have donated $2,000 in your name to Evangelicals against Evolution," the whole 'giving to charity as a gift' thing loses some of its charm.

Miranda Everitt

Good point. Food banks are relatively inoffensive, though, right?


What I do with my Amazon Wishlist (Are we having this conversation? because I'll start it), Is go on and check the "what they see" box so that I know what it looks like to people who I send it to, and I also know how many gifts have already been purchased for me. I do this because I am still 9 years old and can't wait to be surprised.

I also do that thing where I install an amazon toolbar and click on everything I want to get no matter what webpage I'm on (I'll have one of Edith as my best friend!). But that's like a really old feature so I'm not even going to talk about it anymore.


Hello, tech support? I accidentally deleted my humanity. Am I immortal now?

little dead riding hood

You can't click undo to un-delete humanity? If you can this means humanity (whatever that really means anymore, right?) can be preserved while I return things like toothbrush sanitizers and Anthony Bourdain.

little dead riding hood

Anthony Bourdain BOOKS! Not Anthony himself. I'd consider it, though.


Oh you can RETURN Anthony Bourdain?!? This would have been helpful information BEFORE I stuffed his ugly mug into the trash compactor. Oh well, next time maybe...

Caitlin Podiak

My best friend gives me terrible gifts year after year, and also she always loses everything nice that I give her. But once I decided not to ever give her anything that she couldn't immediately consume, we were all good.


whatever happened to just getting people gift cards? gift cards are awesome. let's stop the gift card hate, folks.

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