The new coastal culture wars

At, all the irritation and wasted time of a shopping expedition are gone—the search for a parking place, the surly floor clerk, the sold-out items, the perversely slow person ahead of you at checkout. You don’t have to think about how much the cashier, with her wrist in a splint, makes per hour. The Internet’s invisibility shields Amazon from some of the criticism directed at its archrival Walmart, with its all-too-human superstores. Online commerce allows even conscientious consumers to forget that other people are involved.

Emphasis mine, in this passage from George Packer's article on Amazon vs the book publishing industry, from the February 17, 2014 issue. The piece was titled “Cheap Words” and the subhead read “Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?” 

Granted, it's tough to represent the pro-Amazon position when so few people will speak on the record or comment on the piece, but I will say I've read enough pieces on the tech industry from what you might call East Coast institutions to detect some coastal cultural bias in each direction. It's not surprising when software is eating the world and cultural influence shifts towards the West Coast for the liberal elite of, say, Manhattan, to turn a nose up at the hoodie-wearing, ping-pong playing, nouveau riche of Silicon Valley.

Packer has written a lot about Amazon in its ongoing battle with publishers, but he's not the only writer I've detected some of this tone in. His example stood out to me, however, because of the New Yorker's typically neutral tone. Here's a straw man of a cashier, or straw woman, as it were, and her wrist is in a splint. Why not just end her arm at the elbow, in a stub, like Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa?

Silicon Valley has enough real problems (Amazon included) that need addressing that shouldn't be obscured by conjuring false bogeymen. That so many have cast book publishers as some sympathetic white hat in this story is one of the more absurd developments in recent media history.