Friday, November 26, 2010

Consumer Culture War

I'm not a grinch, not a holiday-hater, no bah humbug here. But I do HATE the consumer culture that surrounds all things holiday this time of year. I write this on what's quickly becoming a holiday in itself - Black Friday.

Seriously, people. What the hell is up with waiting in line overnight in below freezing temperatures just so you can snag a $100 TV? I just don't get it. I can't think of anything more hideous than to wake up at 3 a.m. to make it to Target in time to buy a $75 camera or a $3 toaster. In my cost-benefit anaylsis of Black Friday, sleeping is worth way more than the $10 I might save on said toaster. Really, don't we all have a toaster anyway? I don' t know anyone that wants one for Christmas either. If I'm waking up at 3 a.m. it had better be for work or an emergency or some great life experience that doesn't involve a debit card.

As I was getting ready for work this morning I was watching a bit of the news on TV and they actually had reporters out 'covering' Black Friday. It's apparently news that we are all consume-crazy. Now while I do realize that this year is a bit different what with the Recession and all, people are generally feeling better about life (at least those of us with jobs) and are ready to spend a little money. Here's a fun fact for you - the average person will spend over $600 this holiday season. $600!

It's seemingly not enough that stores open at 4 a.m. Retailers now feel the need to be open for business on the one holiday that every single American can celebrate . Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we can be lazy, hang out with family and friends, watch football if that's your thing, catch a movie, eat too much monochromatic carb-filled food and take an afternoon nap without feeling guilty. People should not have to work or think they need to work to make double time. The option shouldn't even be available.

It's like we all have this chip in our heads that is programmed to buy, buy, buy. As Americans our commonality is based on our consumer culture. We are many things (incredibly philanthropic, giving, compassionate, and kind) but our American culture is based on purchasing, buying and consuming. The chip in my head turned on big time after I refinanced my house. The urge to purchase something was a little overwhelming. Fortunately, I was able to curb my desire by remembering my deal to not buy anything new. I'm now struggling with the deal I'm making in my head to buy something after the first of the year. Somehow then it won't count.