So, what are we to do in a culture driven by capitalism? According to Cory Doctorow (2023), the concept of “enshittification” explains the market forces that encourage a platform to cater to different strata of the population over time. The platform is successful in keeping each group happy and dependent on the platform until they shift methods and gears to bring in another group in order to grow, ultimately frustrating everyone who was already there, leaving those initial users who were early adopters of the platform and brought it to existence and initial success, in the dust. This enshittification applies to the handmade marketplace in question, leaving its original handmade sellers and early devotees in the throes of quirky algorithms and shifting priorities after almost each quarterly shareholder meeting. This cautionary tale leaves everyone to consider, and reconsider, their place in a business world where various platforms vie for their and others’ time, attention, and most importantly, money. Each year, an additional small percentage is added to the amount of each sale that is claimed by the platform, with less and less value-add. This extra cost burden gets passed on to the consumer, or more likely, the seller to stay competitive.

Now, if I get a negative review, I strive to respond in a more productive way. I leave good reviews for places I love – small businesses that are making it work despite so many pressures to close up shop and go work for someone else, so many pressures to abandon their own good ideas and lives and devote them instead to making more millionaires become billionaires. Five stars go to the small restaurants in our neighborhood that I want to keep open. When people feel out of control of their lives, they receive bad news, or something sad and out of their control happens, they attempt to take some control in some way, and sometimes that’s leaving a negative review. In my case, it’s to leave a positive one. It’s a very human thing to do, it turns out. A way to keep commerce human.

I remind myself that this one e-commerce platform is just that: it’s just one place that I choose to spend my time, ideas, energy, and money. Over the last decade, I’ve created several supportive environments outside of the e-commerce site that allow connection with customers and positive experiences with families using our handmade products. I won’t let the design of the platform or the whims of the shareholders detract from my positive experience. To do that is to lose what remaining joy I have and bring to what I make and share with others. And no bad review can take that away from me. A review is not my identity, it is not me. I am the only one who can manage my own expectations and I encourage you to do the same the next time you are asked to leave a review.