After the turkey’s gone, will you celebrate Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day?
If you were one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose power from Hurricane Sandy, the storm likely kept you home from work (or your kids from school) for a day or two. Not only that, it offset Halloween celebrations, postponing official ‘trick-or-treating’ festivities two days in some towns and up to a week in others. As a result, you or someone you know might have spotted holiday shopping advertisements on television, in circulars or at the mall before you even showed off your Halloween costume.
It seems that every year signs of the holiday season are showing up earlier and earlier, whether we want them or not. Upon entering a Yankee Candle store the Monday after Halloween, I was harassed by tinsel, whiffs of cinnamon and employees sporting Santa hats. It was 70 degrees out; when I left my house earlier that day, I almost ran over trick-or-treaters. A little over-zealous this year, aren’t we? If this trend keeps up, our mailboxes are going to be stuffed with Black Friday circulars before Back-to-School ads are even released.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of busting down Wal-Mart’s doors at 5 am on November 23rd—correction, Wal-Mart isn’t going to wait until Black Friday this year; they’re opening at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day. In protest of the issue of over consumption and consumerism during the holiday season, Adbusters is promoting its “Buy Nothing Day” campaign more than ever before. The non-profit Adbusters Media Foundation is a reader-supported magazine “concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces.” The first Buy Nothing Day was held in Mexico back in 1992, and it has since broadened to 65 countries including America where the celebration is held on the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday, one of the ten busiest shopping days of the year.
On Adbuster’s website, the Buy Nothing Day campaign is also referred to as Occupy Xmas, a part of the Occupy Movement. The campaign is requesting shoppers to buy nothing for the 24-hour period that is Friday, November 23rd into Saturday November 24th, which is the International Buy Nothing Day. Adbuster’s website reads: “Go cold turkey from consumer culture completely!” The hope is to spread the message to people to not get caught up with the Black Friday tradition of holiday shopping hysteria, and as a result realize the benefits of a lower-consumption lifestyle and mindset for the Christmas season.
It is very likely that many people will ignore this plead to remain home and not shop—for many women, their livelihood is waking up early and landing great bargains on items normally priced more than 50% higher. Not only that, but it seems Adbusters needs to, well, advertise their idea more. Despite the fact the campaign has been a presence in America since 1997, I had never heard of it until browsing on Meetup, the social networking site for local groups. On this site, Buy Nothing Day has been taken to the extreme. A group of activists got together to turn Buy Nothing Day into a “Carnivalesque Rebellion” in efforts to shut down consumer capitalism for an entire week, culminating in Black Friday. You can find your local community who are participating in the campaign and join them in spreading the word, if you so desire.
While the Carnivalesque Rebellion effort seems a bit ridiculous, Adbuster’s website at least pokes fun at their movement, providing comical suggestions for those want to still go out and have some fun on Black Friday but still raise awareness. One idea named ‘Whirl-Mart’ reads: “You and nine of your closest friends silently drive your shopping carts around in a long, inexplicable conga line without ever actually buying anything.” Another titled ‘Credit Card Cut Up’ suggests you stand at one location in a mall with a pair of scissors offering “an end to extortionate interest rates and mounting debt with one considerate cut.”
Adbuster’s idea to get people out of the stores not only for Black Friday but the holiday season overall is a bit overreaching. Americans love to shop, recession or not. A much more realistic goal for Buy Nothing Day (or Occupy Xmas) was mentioned by Lauren Bercovitch in an interview last holiday season. Bercovitch said the campaign wasn’t realistically trying to get everyone to resort to do-it-yourself Christmas presents. “It could be something as simple as buying locally—going out and putting money into your local economy.”
Now that is a much more pragmatic goal, one we should all keep in mind when shopping this holiday season.
Dr. Mike Malone is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and served as it’s formal president. Dr. Malone is the official cosmetic dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants and his work has been featured on the Sharon Osbourne show.
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