Once in a great while in the constant hellscape that is capitalism, there appears something in which we can find joy: pirating your favorite show from your least favorite company, blocking every promoted tweet on your timeline to assert your dominance, and my personal favorite, websites whose domain names are that of brands, but which do not belong to the brands in question. The most famous example of this is nissan.com, which is owned by one Mr. Uzi Nissan, president of Nissan Computer Corp, who suffice to say will not be buying a Sentra any time soon.
My personal awakening to this particular joy, however, came to me while I was trying to order a salad from my favorite salad place near my office. Guessing at what would most likely get me where I was going, I erroneously typed “chopt.com” into my browser’s URL bar, expecting to be greeted by the appetizing vision of a bowl of leaves, but was instead presented with several listings of aquatic vehicles for sale. It was at this moment that I discovered that chopt.com, for whatever fantastic reason, had automatically redirected me to shipsales.com, a website I would have never known existed or thought to seek out otherwise.
This is a wonderful thing for one very obvious reason: it’s a very clear — and rare — example of a brand not being able to completely control a situation, a message, a person or persons, etc., for their own gain. And for the most mundane of reasons. Joe Blow bought the domain first. The complete domination of brands and corporations over our lives occupies a great deal of brain space in the year of our lord two thousand and twenty, and so there’s a sort of beautiful, anti-authoritarian joy in this simple denial of “getting that brand on lock.”
My favorite thing about chopt.com — that is, shipsales.com — however, is that unlike Mr. Nissan’s clear, vocal distaste for Nissan The Car Company and their desire for his domain, there is no visible reason why chopt.com should redirect to shipsales.com. Not only is there no clear connection to the name Chopt, but our seafaring friends are not even using the name as their main domain, it’s just a redirect. So what exactly is the story here? Is it a case of petty domain-squatting? Did the team at ShipSales partake of the chopped greens and judge them to be sub-par, forever dooming the choppers to a life of brand fragmentation?
It is, of course, possible that this was a cynical ploy by an employee of ShipSales.com Inc trying to tap into the hot SEO of a company that, judging by the ShipSales web design, did not yet exist, figuring that anyone who would pay ten American dollars for a loose amalgam of wet vegetables would surely be in the market for some maritime leisure. But I really hope not. I prefer to believe in the beautiful mystery that is, on its better days, the internet. Like a ship passing slowly in the night. Calling to me. Beckoning me to the sea.
Perhaps one dreary day, when I’ve tired of my city life, and I attempt once more to make a healthy lunch choice, I’ll finally decide to cast off my workaday shackles, and drop a cool 5 mil on that 1989 Romanian Oil Tanker.