I want to start by making it very clear that I like Christmas and I like getting and giving presents and I like shopping and just the same as most people I can often be found spending a bit more than I really should. I used to think I loved Christmas and maybe I still do, but I am starting to think that perhaps there really are people that love it more than I do, seeing as I try to keep it low key until much later in December. I perhaps just don’t have the stamina for it that others seem to.
This year it seems to me that Christmas has been ramped up to factor ten much earlier than usual. The fairly new tradition for the big Christmas Advert reveal happened at the beginning of November and it just seems to get bigger from there. Which mean we will have nearly two months of Christmas preparation and being told we must ‘buy this’ ‘eat that’ ‘drink this’ ‘do that’. It makes me want to hide under a duvet.
And then came Black Friday, an American import which sees massive reductions on goods the day after Thanksgiving, in preparation for Christmas. Supermarkets opened at midnight and online retailers started their Black Friday deals at the same time. At first I didn’t really pay much attention, but when the morning news started reporting about queues and crowds, a sick feeling started in my stomach. By 9am I had heard a clip of someone in one of these queues, who was asked what she was hoping to buy.
“ummmm…..TV’s, tablets…..ummmm…radios……whatever we can get our hands on really. Someone got punched in the face here last year!”
She didn’t even know what she wanted! She didn’t need or even really want anything. Just the lure of a huge company with enormous profits shouting “Buy this! Don’t miss out! Everyone else is doing it!”. Almost immediately after this was on the radio I found myself in a huge queue of traffic that isn’t normally there and realised I was near a John Lewis. It finally dawned on me that this was really happening and this was really a ‘thing’. As the day wore on it just got worse. Pictures of marauding mobs pushing and shoving to get a TV, police called to supermarkets, many websites not working due to pure volume of traffic and what made it worse was that this was all being done in the name of Christmas.
As someone far more insightful than me pointed out on Twitter, people are prepared to go to Tesco to buy something they don’t even need at midnight, but walking to the local primary school to vote on who runs the country seems to be an effort too far. We are told that we are more financially squeezed than ever and yet Christmas comes around and suddenly consumerism reigns supreme. It just leaves me feeling cold and sick, as if I have gorged on too much chocolate. The only winners in this are the companies that are selling us all the ‘stuff’, despite the massive reductions that were on offer yesterday, they are still making a huge profit, which frankly should just make us feel a bit stupid for the rest of the year as well. I agree that Christmas is a time of celebration, but since when did celebration involve fighting to get your hands on a new games console. WHAT ARE WE DOING?!
I finished the day feeling rather disillusioned with the world and as if I didn’t want to buy anything EVER AGAIN. Of course, I will, but I didn’t buy anything yesterday* and I think I will make a point of not shopping at all on Black Friday, which I have now taken to referring to as Bleak Friday.