IT is worth it? Is the convenience worth the cost to your high street, your country, yourself? Every time you click on Amazon don’t you feel a sense of concern that you’re making the wrong choice – a dangerous or damaging choice? That your money could be spent in a much better, safer, and fairer way?

We’re heading into the Christmas shopping season, with Black Friday just around the corner. It’s boom time for Amazon, and the company is pumping out Christmas adverts telling us how great it is to shop online and what a wonderful place Amazon is for staff.

We’ve been stubbornly avoiding the truth about Amazon for too long. We’ve shifted from being active citizens to passive consumers; as long as we’ve the convenience of easy shopping we won’t think about what our choices are doing to society.

We’ve all heard the stories about tough working conditions, staff being monitored, taxes not being paid, but Amazon makes life easy so you put it out of your mind. However, a new investigative documentary by Channel 4 this week came as a salutary reminder of just how pernicious the company has become.

A third of all online purchases are made via Amazon and around 90% of us use Amazon. It has the clout of some countries.

Let’s think of our high streets, increasingly empty, dilapidated, abandoned. Every time you order an Amazon parcel, think of your neighbours or friends who work in retail. A purchase on Amazon is a threat to the local book shop, or toy store, or jewellers. The way we shop is putting people out of work - we could even be putting ourselves out of work. At the very least, we’re killing off our own neighbourhood. Do you like walking through a ghost town high street? We’re hurting our own communities.

On tax, Amazon’s revenue in the UK is around £11bn. Last year it paid £220m in tax – that’s about 2%. How much do you pay in tax? Is it more than 2%? How much does your employer pay?

Of course, it’s not breaking the law. That’s just the way the UK tax system works. HMRC even pays millions for web services to an arm of Amazon based in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is considered a tax haven for large corporations.

However, maybe a lot of people don’t care about the high street or tax, as long as they’re alright. When it comes to Amazon, however, tax and the high street are just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s talk about your data – all those secret things you look at on the internet which you don’t want anyone to know about. Too late – they know.

Amazon is the third biggest advertising business in the world after Google and Facebook. Like many internet advertisers, Amazon places cookies – tracking software – across a range of sites online to learn about us. Channel 4 commissioned the company WebXray, which investigates data-gathering online. They looked at 2000 mental health websites. Some 99% of those mental health sites had ‘third party tracking’ on them. Just under a fifth of the pages were collecting information for Amazon.

One website gave advice on anorexia – Amazon was on it with cookies. The expiration date of the cookie was January 1 2025 at 17.34.

Privacy International says such targeting by advertisers is “utterly unacceptable”. There’s concerns that gathering information on an individual and their worries about mental health could lead to them being targeted when they are at their most vulnerable. Amazon says it takes privacy “seriously”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is getting worried about what’s happening in online advertising. It says “the market has evolved to an unhealthy state”. Data has become an “arms race”. What’s going on is “creepy” and “intrusive”.

No wonder many thinkers contemplating how to fix the wild west of the internet advocate that if a company wants to use your data then legally they have to first get your permission and then they have to pay you to do so. We are all, as individuals, making these corporations vastly rich, after all. In a way, they’re picking our pockets.

If you have one of Amazon’s talking Alexa devices, then think of where you use it. Do you listen to it in bed with your partner? In the bathroom? While you talk about your day at the kitchen table? Professor Karen Yeung of Birmingham University says: “You are being surveilled at a very intimate and very detailed level inside your home.”

Let’s remember that Amazon began as a book store. Does it have the responsibility of your local bookshop - if it still exists? The company has been accused of selling books promoting anorexia. Amazon defends itself on the basis of freedom of speech. But how would you feel if you saw a pro-anorexia book in your local bookshop? Would you shop there again, or avoid it in disgust?

Some toys on Amazon were found to be highly toxic. Bath toys like ducks and octopuses had a chemical called DEHP in them. This poses a risk to fertility. Tests found one toy had 30% DEHP, the law permits only 0.1% - another toy had 500 times the legal limit. The toys, which were described as non-toxic, were later removed.

Workers, who could be your friends or relatives, consistently complain of tough conditions. Staff are expected to ‘stow’ an item for delivery every 10 seconds - that’s around 2000 items a day. They complain of physical problems. Sickness puts a permanent contract at risk. Claims persist about monitored toilet breaks. Amazon says it is “proud of the workplace we provide”.

Amazon is everywhere. It’s bought over companies like Whole Foods; it’s getting into medicine and the military. There’s concerns over anti-competitive practices.

Do we want this modern East India Company wielding such power over us? Mining us for data? Milking us for money? Getting rich while we pay tax?

Christmas is coming – the time of goodwill and acts of kindness. The greatest act of kindness you could do your neighbourhood, yourself – and even your country – is to make sure you support your local businesses.

Shop at your local bookstore and jewellers. Turn your back on the internet. Christmas is a time when we try to show we love our fellow man and woman. You’ll never be able to show love if you live behind a screen.

Go out and do something that changes things for the better. Ditch Amazon, for starters.