I wasn't angry. I wasn't even slightly perturbed. I've passed gas that's made me more emotional. And I wondered why? Why was I, the never reluctant crusader against injustice, completely cold when I read all these stories about glorifying Etsy resellers, Etsy going public, Etsy going against what many hoped it would be... A true port in the storm for makers to band together against the big box, wholesale, imported from third world and marked up 1000% mentality...?
Was I just getting old(er) and jaded(er?)? Had I sold out? Was I a fat cat, accepting my sales on Etsy and patting my rounded belly, full of broken handmade dreams?
I don't think it's any of those things. Yes I'm older, and yes, my belly is probably rounder than when I first signed up to Etsy. But that's just because of time and carbs.
And you can't suggest that I never cared. I cared big time.
I signed up to sell on Etsy in 2009. I had only the tiniest shred of hope I'd sell a few things and make pocket money. It didn't really matter though as I simply felt a primal urge to just make shit. I was unhappy in my day job where every ounce of creativity was strictly forbidden unless it involved new ways of kissing the boss's arse.
I would spend weeks at work and only create an ulcer. I'd spend a single hour in the evening crocheting a dish towel (that I knew I'd never even use) and feel a warm sense of satisfaction. If God exists, I thought, we now have something in common. We both like making shit. Yes, we already both had facial hair but I can't help it. I'm Italian.
I stumbled upon the Etsy forum not long after opening my shop. Like all newbies, I was hungry for advice that would help me sell something... anything... please dear god let that transaction email pop up.
What I found there was quite enlightening (and entertaining, and infuriating, and hilarious and sometimes even helpful... oh the old Etsy forums *sigh*). While most conversation was positive, there was already a decent undercurrent of unrest which I quickly recognized. As a cynical person I am not drawn to wide eyed acceptance of authority. In my experience the ones who are complaining usually just have a better bullshit detector. On Etsy there were many wise detectors.
They were hard to find as they were sometimes camouflaged by granny squares or wire wrapped pendants or the overpowering stench of supposedly handmade soap. But I did find them. And oh, did we butt heads with the loads of starry eyed buttheads littering every corner of every space. I was accused of being negative. I was accused of never being satisfied. And eventually, due to one particular Etsybot, I was forever silenced from the Etsy forums. Yes, I cared so much and spoke so often about my concerns, Etsy shut me up. Whereas in most businesses, dissatisfied customers are given more attention, Etsy just told me to shut the fuck up. How thoughtful of them.
Where was I? Oh right, arseholes. Oh yes, I'm sure they thought they were the ones who cared, and that I and other like minded folks were just haters. Yet, as it turns out, we haters were right. Our negative predictions have all just about come true.
So why don't I even feel some sense of smug satisfaction? Why don't I even take perverse pleasure in the demise of the Etsy fairy tale?
I've realized that Etsy is not my boyfriend. I wasn't the first person or even the hundredth to use that phrase. But it was a punchline before. Now it's the cold truth.
You know how they say if you can get angry with someone that means you still have feelings for that person? I have broken up with Etsy, had revenge sex with someone else (artfire), a rebound relationship (zibbet) and am now building my future with someone who accepts me for who I am (big cartel).
Etsy is now simply another company I patronize. Sure, there are feelings of gratitude. Just like I am grateful my local supermarket always has milk and bread, I am grateful that Etsy has created a selling platform. I use it, and use it well. I pay them for it, and they provide me with a service. I feel no more outrage with their business dealings than I do with my local pizza place. I pay them for a pizza, they give it to me and I eat far too much of it and then feel like crap later. They know they're getting my $20. I know I'm getting a bigger arse. We all know where our relationship begins and ends.
However, I don't blame anyone for still feeling angry about Etsy. There were a lot of hopes at the beginning and many feel let down. I sometimes wish I were around for the heady optimism in Etsy's earliest days. But then again, perhaps it best I arrived long after the last cup of kool-aid had been given out. Perhaps that makes it easier for me to accept that Etsy's a business with millions of dollars of investment and no closer to revolutionizing handmade than Apple is to producing a better crop of honeycrisps.
Etsy isn't our boyfriend. Etsy never was. It never will be. Etsy's more like our vibrator. It gives us what we want and there's no love lost or gained. We can ignore it and it won't ever bother us again, or we can plug in and go along for the ride. It's just a power tool. And as with most every power tool, much of its parts are mass produced in China.