Oh Black Friday of Death


Maybe you didn’t catch it. Who am I fooling — how could you have missed it?

Talking down Black Friday is all the rage this year! At least it is amongst those who’ve finally woken up from their slumber to realize what a game and general waste of collective time it is. Unfortunately these folks are a bit late to the Black Friday groin-kick.

But all is forgiven, we need voices from every direction!

Even marketing geniuses like Seth Godin have publicly posted about the ridiculousness of this “day” that is burned into our collective minds. This celebration of conspicuous consumption. For what used to be a shopping tradition, has become representative of nearly Everything that is wrong with modern western culture. The culture we’ve been exporting successfully across our beautiful globe for decades now.

What’s funny is, Adbusters (and many others) have been speaking out against “Black Friday” for years, starting their amazing “Buy Nothing Day” in protest. This turned into Buy Nothing Christmas and the movement now known as #OCCUPYXMAS.

Please participate in one or all of the above/below. It will make you feel much better.

Any gifts I buy this year will be from small local retailers, independent businesses, or the many craftsmen on Etsy or Big Cartel, et cetera. Another amazing option: make a Kiva loan or buy from a micro business oriented portal like Ten Thousand Villages or Novica, which support artisans/craftspeople across the world.

This discussion, at the forefront of the fringe [finally] is how do our buying choices affect others?

The irony here is placed frightenly before our eyes. The modern conveniences so many desire, the very toys that help many keep up with the Joneses, are the things which are sinking us further and further closer to environmental disaster. Will it be a tornado or a typhoon? “Who knows and who cares as long as it doesn’t hit my neighborhood.” or “I’ll be ready for it in my 2013 Range Rover xl12000.”

This [bordering on] engrained sociopathy, however unintentional, is at the core of consumer culture. It’s a Pavlovian response to our physical and psychological circumstances.

A belty “Shouldn’t we have things” will be the mantra that explodes from children, husbands, wives, relatives, maybe even strangers. I’ve heard it countless times. The answer used to be a resounding “of course we should. You should have whatever you want. Whatever you need.”

The answer now is different. We don’t live in the same world we lived in 20 years ago. We live in a connected world. We also live in a world with an ever rising middle class, at least internationally. In Asia, for example, the middle class is expected to triple — to 1.75 BILLION — by the year 2020.

So, we have to change things. The planet can’t support the kind of middle class demands that will create.

A simple habit change in the way we think about having “things” will help solve the issue.

Today there’s a lot to share. The commonwealth of your local community is likely a resource rich place. Do I really “need” a hedge trimmer? A chainsaw? A deep fryer? Probably not. Those are things I could probably borrow from my friends.

Would the money I could have spent on that chainsaw be better spent on my home, family, a small business or maybe a vacation? Probably so.

So when it comes down to it, once we have the necessities, A lot of the other stuff falls into the “do I really need it” camp.

I used to think about this a lot. But for several years now it has become part of my buying experience. Do I need it? If not, it’s a borrow / rent situation. And I love that. Is it more convenient to have something lying around? Sure. But do I NEED IT? If not, it’s a “no” plain and simple.

The reward — the exciting thing — is that I get to meet my neighbors. I get to see my friends more. I also have a neverending list of stuff at my disposal that I don’t really need to spend money on. Amazing. This is progress, not the opposite.

The sharing economy is something to work towards and it’s actually kind of fun.

Some people, mainly the people who grew up in capitalism’s heyday, will say “what do you mean?” Implying that America was built on buying crap you don’t need. “What will happen to the economy?” What will happen to the economy? Could there be anything worse than what’s already happened? Sure there is. But we’re not advocating to stop spending money altogether, we’re advocating for spending your money locally and also globally: through fair trade organizations.

Our overlords [multinationals] have chosen the overarching economic situation for us. They don’t pay taxes, so let’s not pay into their coffers. They already have billions, let them keep it. Let’s keep the rest amongst ourselves. At least until we have a better economic system in place. Let’s support our fellow humans rather than some invisible entity selling us their soap.

Recently Anonymous began their “Billion Business Boycott” an effort to re-route money from multinationals and banks to local farmers and merchants. When they announced their one week campaign I pushed them to extend it to 30 days.

That’s because I’ve been operating this way for years. Unless I’m making a big purchase which requires my funding of a multinational (car, appliance, gasoline, etc) I always choose the alternative. I’m in permanent boycott mode.

I think we all should be. Once a business no longer benefits the community (in more than the single benefit of product creation) and begins to actually harm the community in any way — environmentally, culturally, economically — it’s time to move along.

The entity has become parasitic.

Don’t buy the greenwashing these entities are lathering all over us with their ad campaigns. There is more multinational “everything is fine — we’re fixing things” PR happening every day.

There are inconveniences that come with living this way, but they are worth the trouble. I’d much rather give my $ to my brothers and sisters rather than buy another vacation pad for some fat cat CEO somewhere.

The holidays are a time to think about others, our friends, our families, our communities. I think we’d be much better off if we contribute to local businesses, and donate time or funds to non profits/shelters of choice.

So please think about these things as you head down the holiday road. I know I will. Join us on the weird and wonderful journey of independence from domination!

Want to get deeper into the Black Friday blackout? Join Ruckus in their worker’s rights direct actions happening all over the country or the Making Change at Walmart Black Friday protests. Or for your local community, volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter. Happy logo free Thanksgiving!