Peace, Love and Shiny New Things

Lucy Bater | 23 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving. A day of gratitude, love, family and appreciation for all the things we have. A day of acceptance and want for nothing. Tomorrow is another day. We will wake (maybe in line outside our favourite store,) our animalistic transgressions will surface and thanks and giving will be replaced with spending, taking and trampling strangers to get our hands on that now or never deal.

Thanksgiving may not be widely celebrated but Black Friday has become an entrenched shopping date in the global consumer calendar. Stores generate consumer interests by promoting massive discounts on products that you absolutely need to fulfil happiness and your children simply cannot do without this Christmas. Consumers are led into a false sense of urgency by believing that this is the only day they can get their hands on a bargain.

The want of an item is suddenly replaced with a desperate need, and when we get it, we will have happiness. That is until next year when we realise our previous necessities are no longer fulfilling and our desire, sorry need, for new and shinier items resurface.

Studies have suggested loneliness as the root of material love possession. Many will argue that an all-consuming love for possession may be the root of loneliness.

Consumer spending is central to our economy so it’s no surprise the amount time and money invested, with little regard for social ramifications. Advertising and constant sales foster new needs and reinforces the values of a consumer society. Consumerism can be pernicious, impulsive and misguided. It is seductive. The shiny new things promise more than they can deliver because happiness, contentment and satisfaction cannot be commodified. Holidays have simply become a way of manufacturing consumer needs.

‘Capitalism is no longer manufacturing goods to meet real needs and human wants. It’s manufacturing us needs to sell us all the goods it’s got to produce.’ Benjamin Barber

What is more worrying than our false perspective of material wealth and happiness is the depths we go to get them. Stab wounds, shootings, stealing from children, outbreaks of violence. These are not scenes from war torn countries or an apocalyptic future but a worrying reality of our consumerist culture.

To this date, there have been seven deaths and ninety eight injuries attributed to Black Friday globally. Not to mention the arrests, emergency service calls (because people weren’t getting enough discount) and pepper spray to fend off the competition. That’s a whole lot of consumer crazy!

If you do unfortunately miss out to that once in a lifetime item this Friday, remember there’s always cyber Monday. Failing that there will be that online stores 24-hour sale, or the other one, or the department stores lead up to Christmas sale or that closing down sale which lasts a year, then it’s only 4 weeks until Boxing Day savings, ‘New Years Eve Bonanza’, ‘this weekend only’………….