PEOPLE POWER - HOW #DELETEUBER REMINDS POLITICIANS OF YOUR WORTH
It seems there isn’t much news that doesn’t revolve around ‘Murica and it’s state of political affairs these days, with orange tentacles sliming their way into every nook and ill-advised cranny. When there’s so much grim stuff pushing through the system, despite worldwide protests and calls to many a Senator, it can start feeling a bit hard to make a tangible difference. Hooooowever. A small ray of hope shines through as the results of the #deleteuber campaign start to announce themselves.
On Thursday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, after an intense backlash from users both on and offline. Calls to #deleteuber came after Kalanick seemed reticent in condemning the executive order otherwise known as the Muslim Ban. Executives from other companies including Google, Apple and Netflix had all spoken out and Kalanick’s hesitation to disagree with it was conspicuous in comparison; he initially made gentle comments about how it would affect some ‘innocent people’ while still making reference to his advisory position. As the #deleteuber campaign gathered strength, he strengthened his position, calling it an ‘unjust immigration ban’ and pledging to create a three million dollar ‘legal defense fund’ to help drivers affected, but still tweeted that he would ‘use [his] position’ on the council to ‘stand up for what’s right.’
By Thursday, Kalanick and Uber seem to have concluded that involvement with Trump’s advisory council was more trouble than it’s worth, following over 200,000 people deleting their accounts. Rival company Lyft, who in stark contrast had pledged to donate a million dollars to the American Civil Liberties Union, soared to the top of the download charts, while Uber even had to implement a new automated account-deletion system to cope with the number of customers who were jumping ship. In an email to Uber staff, Kalanick wrote:
‘Earlier today I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community. I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.’
While this may seem like a small piece in a very large puzzle, it goes to show that consumer sway holds a lot of power, and that is something that you can use. Something like deleting an account or shopping at a different store might feel like it won’t actually do any good, but you are a drop in a bucket, my friend, and furthermore you are a drop that counts.
If you need more geeing up, another example comes to us from retail giant Nordstrom; they’ve just stopped stocking Ivanka Trump’s collection and cut their ties with the brand. They had continued to do so, amidst criticism, for the past few months, claiming a sort of retail neutrality, and have now cited the brand’s poor performance as the main factor in it being dropped from their roster. Either way, this feels like a win. Whether it was public pressure to stop supporting the brand, or the fact that the public just wasn't buying it anymore, it still adds up to the power of the people influencing decisions in big companies. People pay attention to big companies. We like this.
When you feel like you can’t make a difference, small wins are just the kick in the pants you need to keep going - this isn’t time to rest on your heels and admire a job well done, it’s a time to realise your own power and your own worth, and use them to be the change.