By: Nancy Elias
‘Tis the season for spending time with family and spending… money? Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but after this holiday of thanks, a whole Pandora’s box of consumerism and gluttony is opened. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, characterized in the United States by extreme consumerism: with customers camping out in front of retail stores for a week in advance to get an amazing price on a laptop or brand-name electronic. This “holiday” often kicks off the Christmas shopping season. While this is all fine and dandy, did we ever stop to consider how ironic Black Friday is? We spend all of Thanksgiving with friends and family being “thankful” for all that we have only to wake up early the next day, to wait hours on line to buy a bunch of things we don’t need: things that we applauded ourselves for being thankful without.
According to Statistic Brain, the total spent on Black Friday in 2012 was $59,100,000,000. That is an average consumer spending of $423 in 2012, compared to an average consumer spending of $398 in 2011, and $365 average consumer spending in 2010 (Statistic Brain). Adjusting for inflation, we are consuming more and more as society with every passing year. More than just consuming more, Americans seem to get a “rush” from this spending spree. We get a rush not from getting what we need at good price but for spending for the sake of spending and consuming just because we can.
There is something quite wrong with this philosophy. Since when did we become the nation of gluttony? We don’t eat to live but live to eat and when we think about our wealth in relation to the rest of the world, this is a shame. Sure, our consumerism helps boost our economy, but one must wonder if moderate consumption would serve to the same effect.
We as a society define ourselves by our “toys” and I wonder what we would do without them. Simply put, we are narcissistic nation, pampering ourselves with these materialistic things. To illustrate our narcissism, the term “selfie” or photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone, was named “word of the year” by Oxford Dictionaries. Perhaps this tidbit of the year is accurately describing our society. Perhaps we are not only self-centered in our photographs of ourselves but self-centered in our consumption.
As a culture, we tend to go through the motions of our society: buying candy on Valentine’s Day, spending an exorbitant amount on Christmas gifts, wearing inappropriate costumes on Halloween, buying this during this time of the year and doing that during that time of the year. We do these things robotically but once in a while you should stop and think about what you’re participating in because often times it’s ironic or down-right wrong.