(Update: A day after posting this piece I searched my name and the problem has been fixed in America! I am no longer a Dog Brush on their American search engine! Their Canada search still doesn’t recognize my existence. Oh well, it is a start! Thank you Amazon and thanks to the power of social media.)
Amazon is convinced that I am a Dog Brush. If you don’t believe me, just go to their website and type in the words “Doug Bursch.” I’ll wait…. What you’ll find, unless this post has somehow transformed their current trajectory, is an extensive listing of Dog Brushes. That’s right, Amazon does not believe that I exist or that there are people in the world searching for signs of my existence. Even though I’ve self-published a book in paperback, digital and audio forms, using their company’s self-publishing platforms, Amazon is refusing to recognize the existence of my book on their website. Well, they eventually recognize my existence when someone types in the title just right, “The Community of God: A Theology of the Church From a Reluctant Pastor.” And they also recognize people who use my long form given name of Douglas Bursch. However, if you remove that “las” ending from my first name, I cease to exist as a relevant search term on Amazon’s platform.
I wonder how this reality came to be. How many people have mistakenly typed “Doug Bursch” when looking for a “Dog Brush.” I assume the answer would be zero people or possibly zero people. Even so, every single person who types my name in Amazon’s search engine is immediately introduced to a world of Dog grooming products, while my name is relegated to the doghouse. Some might say, do something about this Doug, reclaim your identity!
Thanks for your advocacy, but I’ve already tried unsuccessfully to convince Amazon that my name has the right to be searchable. After spending a fair amount of time trying to track down the department that is responsible for disregarding my humanity, my concerns have been repeatedly brushed aside. I even had one customer service representative suggest that I change my name. Others have spent time explaining to me why I just have to accept how their search engine processes the query of my name. They explain that the technology is dictating the outcome, as if people did not create the technology that is rejecting my existence. I’ve been basically told that everyone must follow the lead of the search engine algorithm or whatever programing dictates an inability to recognize that any search using the word Bursch should probably send someone to a product that includes the word Bursch.
So here I am, lost on the internet, abandoned by Amazon’s search engine that refuses to recognize that people are actually searching for what they are searching for. My name is only a mistake to be corrected, an opportunity for Amazon to tell people what they really meant to type. Help me Jeffrey Bezos, you are my last hope. Or should I say help me Jeff Bezos because you are not able to recognize a plea that uses the long form of your first name. Somehow, I think you won’t confuse my use of your name with an interest in Dog Brushes. However, you may understand my use of your name as a plea for you to examine the influence your increasingly expanding company has on the humanity of your users.
I am not a Dog Brush! Yes, I find that statement hilarious as well. I also find my reason for using this statement profoundly troubling.