11.22.2006

In My Email Box This Morning: Buy Nothing Day

So, 10 minutes after I post the previous comment, into my email box this little item nonchalantly arrives:

....As it turns out, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States is historically one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year, and is considered by many to be the “official” start of the Christmas holiday season. There are more circulars and advertising inserts promoting purchases for this specific day than any other day of the year, according to Media Week. Stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart open at 5AM and many stores stay open later than any other day of the year.

In response, the day after Thanksgiving has also become known as “Buy Nothing Day”, which is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Participants refrain from purchasing anything for 24 hours in a concentrated display of consumer power. The event is intended to raise awareness of what some see as the wasteful consumption habits of First World countries. Canadian Mennonites have endorsed it as a springboard to reviving the original meaning of Christmas giving.

In many ways, Buy Nothing Day has gathered a diversity of causes under one banner. It is now observed in 65 countries. BND has simultaneously become about protesting opulence, the corruption of Christmas, ecologically unsustainable products, corporatacracy, anti-Americanism, anti-establishment, pro-socialism, pro-Earth. Some find Buy Nothing Day empowering while others see it as unpatriotic. It has been written off as another form of “slactivism”, while still other critics of consumerism wonder why more Christians aren’t rallying behind the cause.

In my experience, most Mormons don’t like being told what causes to support and are wary of who they are getting into bed with, when they do engage in social action. Similarly, I’ve seen plenty of acrimonious debate about the uses, dangers and benefits of wealth.

In the end, Buy Nothing Day is perhaps a complex cause but particularly after a day of feasting and excess, I can’t help but wonder if Mormons would do well to stay home, avoid the crowds and contemplate how to start the Christmas season in a different and less consumeristic way.

A friend of mine who is LDS sent it to me, knowing how I feel about Black Friday... I don't know who wrote it, but I echo the sentiment. (My emphasis added.)

2 comments:

Reach Upward said...

I've never heard of Buy Nothing Day before, but I long ago foreswore shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I did my personal cost-benefit analysis (including elements of psychology, time management, and finances) and determined that it made absolutely no sense for me to join in the foray.

I was unable to convince my wife to join me. While I snoozed in my warm bed, she went out (late -- it was 7 AM) among the shopping revelers, only to discover that none of the deals she had studiously considered in the Thanksgiving ads were available. You know, the loss leader items that they only have five of (while supplies last), which were gone 30 seconds after 5 AM.

My sister-in-law left her house at 4:30 and still got skunked. She found lines stretching many blocks at the places she wanted to hit. You'd think they were waiting in line for a hot concert ticket or something, rather than a $35 GameBoy Micro which has been selling poorly as of late. She was already back home and in bed by the time my wiser (or perhaps lazier) brother awoke.

I still cannot comprehend the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping insanity. My two oldest sons now despise it as well, having endured their first Thanksgiving newspaper deliveries. Having been a news carrier for five years in my youth, I know that they are also in for it on Christmas Day, although, I haven't told my boys about that yet. But I'm not shopping the day after Christmas either.

That One Guy said...

About five years ago, we decided to go to the local Circuit City on that terrible day. We had a dump of snow the night before and the roads were AWFUL. Coupled with utterly CRAZY people out shopping, it was the worst experience I can recall about shopping. We wanted to get a new Nike MP3 Player for one of the kids. They had about six of them, along with the cheap dvd players, etc. The crush of the crowd when they opened the store was truly horrifying. I've enjoyed my sleep on that day ever since.