Monday, November 14, 2016

Aaaand...the shaming people for shopping on Black Friday is in full force

So, I'm used to seeing the hashtags and images telling people to buy nothing on Black Friday, presumably to fight capitalist culture or something. Fortunately, in my circle of friends, there are usually people who beat me to pointing out that this is a really privileged viewpoint. I mean, come on, some of us can only afford things when they're on sale, and those of us in this boat are already doing less consuming than average throughout the whole year. But it apparently makes people who have a lot of economic privilege feel better to boast that they're making their purchases on a day other than Black Friday.

Today I saw on the REI website that they're closed on Black Friday. I find this admirable, that they're allowing their employees to have a longer weekend with their families, and avoiding having their store filled with people fighting over merchandise. That seems like a good choice for an individual business to make, if they feel it aligns with their values. But the hashtags, and encouraging customers to pledge not to shop that day? That seems a bit privileged and obnoxious.

I imagine much of REI's customer base is people who buy high-end products for hobbies rather than basic needs, and clearly their marketing folks know this. But there are also people (like me!) who shop there for winter wear and bike stuff, because they have some amazing deals for members. I'm not really fazed that the store is closed on Black Friday. I probably wouldn't be headed there anyway, since we don't need anything for our bikes or for winter right now. But I'm not too crazy about their "movement" to not shop at all on Black Friday. I too am quite turned off by spending the entire day buying tons of stuff because you can, but if I find a sale for something we need, yes, I'm going to duck out of eating leftovers and watching movies and go get something I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.

The overall message is good, but I wonder why they couldn't have made it a more general plea to have a simpler holiday season and to gift experiences, secondhand items, and sturdy necessities instead of buying every damn thing. Because encouraging people with lots of expendable income to buy the stuff on a different day (and pay more for it!) doesn't actually change anything with regards to all this "stuff" affecting the environment and our mental health, and it needlessly shames people who already consume less for shopping when things are affordable. Right now it just seems like asking people to show off that they have the privilege to buy anything they want, rather than asking people to change their overall consumption.

No comments:

Post a Comment