What’s So Bad About Bad Gifts?

by Liz Colville

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.