A bit of a tardy note on Black Friday. For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated the “holiday”. The hype, the ads, and the crazed shoppers that trample their fellow humans all serve to make me wonder what we value most as a culture. This year, they pushed it even farther back, Black Friday extending into Thanksgiving itself as some stores opened at 8 pm Thanksgiving night.
I think it’s a metaphor.
What’s happening in our society is an obsession, and one that I’ve bought into as well. Of course we need things, and things matter to keep us alive, link us to others, and make our lives easier. The trouble starts when little things become our ultimate Things, taking the place of God, family, and friends, and we begin to trade relationships for power, wealth, and stuff. When the desire for a new iPad becomes more important than the safety of the person next to you, we have a problem. Traditions, time with family, and counting our blessings are slowly having the rug pulled out from under them by our own looming greed and desire.
As humans, we are relational beings at heart, and the fascination with things continues to tear apart our links to others just as it has for years. Mankind is selfish at its core, and that greedy egoism rears its head at every new invention and toy. But things cannot fulfill us. They cannot love us back, encourage us, or pick us up when we fall. The very technology designed to connect us to one another is damaging our ability to hold real conversations, and instead, we revel in anonymity and feel lonelier and lonelier as we scroll through websites that don’t really mean anything.
America in particular is so consumerist, and that’s only getting worse – or maybe just more obvious. We’re concerned with practicality, and we value the accumulation of wealth, power, and fame above most anything else. We value things for their immediate use to us, and so things art, music, and writing are marginalized. Does it bother me? Yes.
But I am thankful for my wonderful family with whom I got to spend my Thanksgiving, and my love for them was able to overshadow the distress I felt for the consumerist encroaching of Black Friday. And, I have to admit… I did get a pair of jeans.
Read this: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Download this: StayFocusd. I downloaded it recently, and it only lets me spend ten minutes a day on my blocked sites (aka, tumblr). Take THAT, Internet!
EDIT: This article just came up, and I think it’s relevant to this. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gordon-brown/child-labor-trafficking_b_2245536.html . Fourteen child laborers were just found and freed from making Christmas decorations for the west. We tend to just assume that what we buy appears in the stores, and we don’t think about where they come from and what pain was put in to try to make this. I’m not proposing a solution. This is just something to think about.