Pandemic Pandering

Pandemic Pandering

As a blogger and creator I am always looking for topics to make content. I never want to lose momentum in my craft. I want to keep it fresh here and on other platforms like my social media so that my audience grows and remains. Right now, I really don't have much of an audience. Achso Tochter is two years young. I am almost 40. I am an 80s baby. I am from the age of popularity avoidance. I don't really get how to work these tools to my "advantage". Gaining followers is more of a personality, generational thing. No one is retweeting my rants. I have yet to edit any video I would like to be out in the universe. I also have yet to figure out monetization of what I am doing. In essence, I am making light of my pain as an expat. I don't see this as marketable. It is entertaining, soon to be resourceful, but is it really worthy of profit? Should I put my blurbs on t-shirts and keychains? Seriously, I have put all of the popular monetization tools into play. I have set them up and keep them around just in case I do blow up. The plot twist is I don't really know what the fuck I am doing with those things. I also really love my brand. I have a no frill brand that isn't keen on influencing, running ads and or blasting people with emails for their attention. And right now while the fodder is endless as we are all sheltering in place ... I know this is not the time to start pandering to the audience I do have for money. I hate it. Why of all times are all these companies, bloggers and influencers asking for money?

I'm torn by this because I know this pandemic is causing people to experience big financial losses. I have also understood that there are people who create things and people who support them. That is the arts. That is philanthropy. That is innovation. That is investment. The give and take. That have and have nots. The rich and the poor. The blogger and the blog editor. The YouTube creator and the merch manager. The model and the booking agency. The new wing and the donor. I get it. But what is hard to grasp is when people are dying all around us do you really need to take peoples grief, boredom, depression and forced isolation and monetize it so that they feel compelled to pay you? This not only includes artists, mediums, life coaches and fitness gurus but newspapers, activists, diet brands, language instructors, entertainment subscriptions and sex workers. Yeah, I am talking to all of you! Why am I am being told in countless emails, IGTV's and social media posts that you are counting on me to support you during these uncertain and dangerous times? 

Frankly, I already support these people. I follow and share. I watch your ads. I like content even when its bad because I consider and enjoy the full body of your work. I subscribe to mailing lists and newsletters because maybe one day I want to contribute or make a purchase. I sometimes fill out your petitions or donate to your cause but I do so with great caution. I don't want my contribution to open a gateway of constant giving. I already avoid asks at grocery stores or in the mail. I personally do not want to give to charitable organizations. I don't want to give to fad causes. I do not want to give to disasters and crisis' because I seldom see where my money goes. My wish is to one day have the money to support a lot of favorite organizations, artists and creators alike. But I don't want to be forced or duped into contributing. I also don't want to give to those not actively giving themselves. If I do not see where all your hard work is being reinvested I feel like you don't deserve my read, screen time and or click. This is happening way too much where people and organizations are begging more than doing. And this is not because they don't have the money or resources. No, this is because ALL of their contributions are put into stupid social media campaigns. You want to build a house but I have yet to see you get a foundation going or better yet show me someone who needs the home. How do you expect me to support this even with a one time give? I mean the audacity to even ask!?

With Covid-19 I have realized the asking will be endless. All of these businesses have begun inundating their customers with plays on small business support. Frankly, I do not want to buy things right now. I am not working either. I do not have any money either. You can use insurance or get a loan to maintain. I cannot. So why would I take the last money I have to buy your wares or get takeout from you? Why would I risk my health and safety leaving my home to patron your business? Oh and why would I employ the postal and delivery systems to order your crap when those workers deserve to be home too? If I don't eat, nobody does. You wouldn't run me a pizza in my car outside before, so why all of a sudden is your restaurant open offering all sorts of shit from DIY Bloody Marys to steak dinners for two curbside? I feel for you I really do. But there is a great risk in having people stay working to do this and the only way you maintain is to plug the shit heavy. Either your business succeeds in the model having your staff working around the clock to support it. Or you fail as whatever it is you sell isn't worth me leaving my house for or paying $18 for you to deliver it. But from where I am standing I thought everyone was to stay home or only get the essentials. A boutique dress for $180 or 12 styrofoam boxes of deconstructed pho isn't essential! Send your employees home, shutter your business, let the postal services pause and keep your business front of mind by wholesomely checking in with your followers, fans, patrons etc. That is it. Period. 

I was even okay with the idea of gift certificates and Gofundme for restaurants. I would have gladly bought gift cards for a spot I visit often or supported a small business that was already on their last leg. I just don't understand how businesses that are nowhere near the red would take drastic measures to gain profit now. A lot of people are stuck at home and going online for refuge. We go into group chats and forums expecting to read stories of adversity and how people are coping during this time. Then like clockwork some idiot entrepreneur starts peddling away using psychological ploys to make a sale. Recently, there are all these language instructors trolling in expat groups. These are mother tongue speakers who ask questions to pique interest then drop their digital offerings and rates. First, they shouldn't be roaming around in expat communities. Second, they are playing on fears that second language students will somehow lose language skills in quarantine or better yet be deported if they interrupt their studies. It is all so despicable. And sadly people fall for it out of fear and frustration. Sure, I'll pay to Skype in whatever language when all the proper channels to complete and get certified are actually closed for the health crisis. But that person isn't going to teach you outside of your mandated course and bypass an entire system to get you to a deadline on time. It is bullshit. It is bullshit that they are even in the damn group to begin with. Admins are home working or dealing with their children and they can't even stop these vultures from infiltrated safe spaces. I digress.

For those in service or hospitality, I feel you. But what can I do during this time? I can be a shoulder. I can empathize. But I honestly do not align with those who work in a fluid industry. If you are apart of waitstaff, bartending or nightlife - you are underpaid, reliant on tips and can have off seasons. Frankly, I put that line of work in the same arena as pursuing a passion project. The restaurant business is very hit or miss. It is pretty rare to work in any capacity within a restaurant establishment for more than a few months. The turn is high. Other peoples performance or lack thereof can ruin your livelihood. If something like this happens it is inevitable you will lose your income. Those in travel and hospitality, I mean who would have thunk it. Unfortunately, there too is great risk in airlines, hotels and rentals. Honestly, the way these bigger corporations are handling the downturn is making it bad for their employees. You couldn't pay me to be a ticketing agent or a flight attendant right now. If locations are shutting down air travel, unfortunately customers are going to be irate and their connections and accommodations are going to fail left and right. During this frustrating time for people displaced and stranded, how can someone at work be frustrated in any capacity. You're at work, still getting a paycheck and I am being asked by you to pay to re-route to home. I am expecting you to do your job and show me why I should even bother paying more, waste my time or put myself out. I am not looking for your disappointment around having to deal with this. You are paid to deal with this. Consider yourself lucky as the person standing in front you may be separated from their family or risking their job dealing with this shit.

The last and final straw is my obligation to provide resources to first responders. This is by far the strangest request and it is being made by the people who can fix this themselves. There is a huge misunderstanding that a lot of average people are just sitting on premium medical supplies like N95 respirator masks and medical grade latex gloves. My response to that is I wish. If I were in my apartment in Germany right now I would have access to none of this. I wouldn't have known where to purchase this. In America, these things are available to the public but they were never easy to find. Unfortunately, I had someone close to me battle cancer and the above were given to me. The ones I did buy were accessible to all and I didn't deplete the supply or hoard them. I had multiple trips planned to Boston, San Fransisco, Denver, Charlotte, Istanbul and Düsseldorf. I purchased the exact amount of masks I would need for those trips in late January. I considered the fact that they were single use and I would be changing them for each flight. Looking back now I regret buying the few that I did because there were plenty. And the shelves were stocked almost everywhere from hardware stores to Walmart up to about two and a half weeks ago. With that being said nurses, physicians, paramedics ... at least here in America ... had the same exact access. Teachers buy supplies for their classrooms with no reimbursement. Call Center representatives supply their own wipes, Kleenex and other niceties for their cubicles. So why is it that those in the medical profession simply relied upon their employers to fulfill all of their personal safety needs. If supplies are low now, they have been low and it is not the publics responsibility to volunteers theirs. Celebrities, political pundits, newscasters asking for citizen to drop off their supplies at nearby hospitals is a big ask. They can take their own millions and supply these hospital groups. Just because I own 8.2 masks and two bags of food prep gloves doesn't mean I have stockpiled or that I don't have someone in the home that is compromised and needs me to wear it. I need those supplies to buy food for this house not to honor the plea of a singing movie star who can afford to support the entire medical system. By all means ask the nail techs, tattoo artists and Subways. But don't ask me.

For those that have it and can support their rotation of service providers, creators and establishments ... by all means continue. Ladies, if you have standing hair and nail appointments where you can dedicate a certain amount to those who make you beautiful - cash app them. Gentlemen, if you have a barber, fitness trainer or tattoo artist who gets you right - cash app them. If you have babysitters, caregivers, maids, drivers and lawn care providers who you must pay anyways - cash app them. If you have an artists, writer or whomever is keeping you entertained - support them. If you have a restaurant, bar or coffee shop that is struggling - utilize their options, buy a gift card and/or give them a solid review. If you know someone who is a sex worker, a massage therapist, a counselor or a life coach - reach out to them and ask can you assist them during this time. Tip well. Leave snacks at the door. Leave some sanitizer for your trash man and the postal worker. But do not feed into corporations and organizations who are perfectly okay and do not need your patronage, donation or pity during this time. Keep your money for you and yours.