Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday vs. BUY NOTHING DAY

It started, like so many trends, in the U.S.A. But now the phenomenon called Black Friday is coming to Canada.
Joy. (Sarcasm.)
What society doesn't need is another reason to pursue ephemeral thrills (=dopamine rushes) like some kind of basic human right/rite. But creating a ritual around a shopping frenzy (often with only pseudo bargains, as it turns out) seems to be doing just that.
Business may have depended on convincing people to buy ever since business was invented, but the past two decades or so have seen this model getting more and more into our collective psyches. I buy thereofre I am could be the modern credo. It seems that we have forgotten how to be happy without involving a commercial transaction. Shopping has gone beyond "retail therapy." The image that comes to mind is the old experiment where rats with electrodes poked directly into their so-called pleasure centers press a lever to stimulate themselves at the expense of everything else - even eating.
We need to stimulate our pleasure centers -- whatever those are -- at the expense of any kind of serenity or simplicity.
And as greater minds than mine have noted, purchasing something in order to feel "happy" creates a hole that can never be filled.
We have forgotten the meaning of the word "enough." In fact, I think the word is disappearing from our lexicon.
Business wants it that way. If you realize that you have enough clothing for the next year or so, you stop buying a new dress as a pick-me-up. If you stop eating when you're full, you eat less overall, and therefore need to throw less into your basket in the supermarket. Maybe you will stop going to a megamart and start frequenting independent stores instead. But business can't have that! They want you to think it involves too many decisions about quality and price.
If you do what you're supposed to do, you'll keep going to the same enormous store with the plummeting prices - they're plummeting because they say so ... how can you tell if you don't go elsewhere to compare? - and obediently fill your basket with needs and wants.
What business has already accomplished is the blurring of needs and wants in the average brain. We can hardly tell one form the other anymore!
Let us resist. Let us examine our lives, determine our true needs in quiet moments, far from the seduction of fancy ads and in-store "specials," and put things back that we really don't need. Not only will we have more money left for saving, or even for spending on better quality things that will last longer, we will have less to worry about.
See the "Reverend" Billy's tirade about shopping here.
The more you have, the more you have to lose. It's not freedom. It's a trap.
Buy Nothing Day, the day after American Thanksgiving, asks us to resist. Put away your wallet until you need something. Don't shop for comfort or solace or entertainment. Find those precious things in people, animal companions, wildlife, community, good works, solitude, the arts.
Long live the philosophy of BUY NOTHING DAY!

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