WARNING: If you don't want to feel disillusioned don't read this story.
First, I need to tell you the source of this story. It's important because you will appreciate how I innocently stumpled upon it while doing something completely unrelated to looking for a news story. I was going out for my morning walk and I opened up the Weather Network app to check the temperature and read the headline. I was shocked and saddened. I went on my walk flipping from sadness to outrage to disgust to feeling like we've completely lost our way as a society. I've been thinking about it all week.
I don't want to ruin your day but here is the headline with a link to the story: First shopper lines up two weeks before Black Friday. The details of the story are a man in Laredo, Texas is already in line outside a Best Buy store waiting for the Black Friday sale to start.
I don't know how that makes you feel but it makes me feel very sad. I can't imagine what deal would possibly be worth two weeks of my life. I wonder about the mental health of this person and how we as a society can consider this as anything other than insanity. I know that I sound harsh and critical and I don't care. I think a story like that should shock us and make us think about how deeply embedded consumerism is in our psyches. I think someone needs to get this man help. (There's no way I'm going to Texas but if anyone reading this is in Laredo - please go and talk to him.)
As we head into the Holiday season (also known as the shopping season) I want to encourage you to think deeply about what is important. Last year I offered a free email course on Managing Expectations During the Holiday season If you are interested sign up here and I'll send it out again.
Here's some suggestions:
1. Boycott Black Friday. Support 'Buy Nothing Day"
2. Rethink what you buy - Buy used, handmade or locally made where possible. Purchase as little as possible. Spend time with people rather than buying them things they probably don't need. My daughter is my inspiration here. She buys the vast majority of what her family needs used. Anything she can't find she looks for a local business making it and supports them. Her husband was recently visiting in an amazing $17 winter coat he had purchased at a local thrift shop.
3. Sign up for Courtney Carver's 31 Days of Gifts It's like an advent calendar in your inbox and it is a pay what you can offer. I interviewed Courtney on Reframe Your Life and I love her message. Listen to the interview for inspiration.
4. Enlist your friends in this attempt to stop the madness of Christmas. Talk about alternatives to spending money. Share this newsletter.
5. Refuse or throw out flyers. We get them thrown on our porch in a big bundle. I have started picking them up and putting them straight in the recycling bin. I know that I can get sucked into them so I make an effort to not look at them. One of the recommendations of The Minimalists is to stop buying things on sale. We buy way more stuff justifying it when it is on sale.
At the end of the day, I'm hoping we can rewrite a better ending for that sad story. While I don't think we will dissuade people from shopping on Black Friday I think we can recognize that it can be a very dark day indeed.