Pigs in Zen

Black Friday.  Buy Nothing Day.  Two opposite ends of the spectrum.  Both are addressing the same thing: Americans and their unending consumption. 

If you watch the news around Thanksgiving you can be guaranteed of two things.  You will see a story about feeding the homeless and you will see one about shoppers camping out at stores to grab those "door buster" deals. 

Our people have a problem, and all medias keep it going.

I understand we live in a capitalist society and we need the green to keep feeding the machine.  I get that.  I also understand that for many, capitalism works.  I'm not adverse to making money and buying stuff ... even stuff I don't need.  I'm adverse to mindless, orgiastic spending and consumption.  Apparently, much of the rest of the world doesn't have any such problems. 

When 9/11 happened, Baby Bush told us to do our part to help America by continuing to shop.

The Super Bowl has more to do with how much is spent on ads and how many people watch them now than it does on what teams are playing.

Thanksgiving is less about giving thanks and more about developing shopping strategies. 

A Wal Mart employee was trampled to death in a throng of Black Friday shoppers.  The horde did not seem to care. 

People weren't just camping out at stores overnight.  A group of ten was outside a Best Buy, I believe, for over a week, taking shifts.  They were rewarded for their stupidity with new iPads.  When you see homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, you yell, "Get a job!"  When you see some white women doing it, you give them iPads.

Buy Nothing Day was developed to make people think about their mindless spending, which is reinforced by Black Friday.  There is also a movement all about shopping at small businesses.  A frenzy is a frenzy, however, and it doesn't really matter where you do it.

I know people who love the insanity of Black Friday.  Oddly enough, and many are going to find this tasteless, but I will stick by it, their unrestrained glee is akin to a group of frat boys finding a girl passed out in the corner.  It is all about savagery and nothing of finesse comes out of it.  These Black Friday lunatics have all kinds of good intentions and military-like battle plans, but as soon as those doors open, the mouths froth and the eyes get glazed over with the notions of bargains.  They are pawing merchandise, pushing others out of the way ... all so that they can have their way with the goods.  After all, a sweater at half off is really fucking important.

I buy things.  I tend to only buy what I want and need.  I don't go into the spirit of celebration when it comes to consumerism.  I tend to agree with Fugazi that "merchandise keeps us in line."  The urge to consume goods is far greater in many Americans than the urge to do something truly important. 

And let's face it, if terrorists really wanted to strike fear, they wouldn't hit the Super Bowl, they'd hit a mall on Black Friday.  That would be all it takes to keep a majority of people thinking twice about their spending habits, though I'm sure the president would tell us to keep spending ... even if it endangered our lives. 

Buy Nothing Day (or the National Day of Mourning).  It's an idea well worth looking into.  Even if you can't follow it, at least think about it.  Unless, of course, you're too busy trampling people to death.


Nikki said...

Black Friday scares the crap out of me. I'm non-confrontational by nature, and it seems everyone is highly confrontational on this day. I get overwhelmed by large crowds and forget why I'm there- it happens to me during regular grocery shopping trips at Walmart, so I can only imagine what would happen on Black Friday. I guarantee I'd burst into tears at some point, and end up hiding in the bathroom quaking in terror at another. There isn't enough xanax in the world to get me to a "doorbuster" at 5am. Black Friday shopping brings out the worst in too many people.

Jennifer Leeland said...

The part that gets me is the frenzy has spilled over into the holiday set aside for giving thanks for what we have. Not what we buy.
I couldn't believe people gave up time with family, time to be grateful, to camp out in front of a store for some mythical deal.
It's sad, really.
Hey, at least it's not beating out the stories about feeding the homeless, Toys For Tots and other fantastic things that do happen during the holidays.
Black Friday is a great example of cattle stampeding.
No deal is worth it. Not in my opinion.
I spent Black Friday in the rain holding a sign up for Toys for Tots. That's how I roll.

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

I don't put much faith in the masses to be doing good on this day. It's all about "me, me, me." I did actually venture out to the mall, but much later in the day. It wasn't actually too bad. Small miracles.