On the radio this morning, I heard about how Americans will spend about $6 billion dollars today, Cyber Monday. Records are expected to be broken. This, of course, just a few days after Black Friday, which makes a fair amount of news on its own for its revelation of our lustful spending habits. So let’s take a quick jab at this made-up holiday, and some other things we now treat as normal, or even ‘necessary rites of passage’ that once never were.
Cyber Monday was invented not long after the dawn on the online shopping era, and debuted in 2005. And this year, it is expected that it will be the largest ever.
There are other similar ‘made-up’ shopping holidays around the world besides Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In China, $25 billion were spent on “Singles Day” this year, an invention by Asian online retailer Alibaba, which included the spending $1 billion in the first 2 minutes. It is touted as the anti-Valentine’s day. I guess people really enjoy spending on themselves.
Speaking of which, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter and other occasions around the world with real histories and traditions (mostly religious), have also been hijacked by marketers, to take you away from the tradition of celebrating what you have (each other) and alter it to include buying things that will end up in the bottom of the ocean sooner or later. Remember, that is their job, their mission. To sell you things, including that which you don’t need and can’t afford. I mused to myself while noticing that some of the largest discounts offered on days like Black Friday are often for TVs, which are likely the most prevalent source of marketing we receive still. So we are literally going to the stores to fight each other or neglecting our work to shop online to save 30% on a TV, of which we already have a few probably, so that we can receive more of their messaging in the future. Make sure to pick up that washroom wall-mount while you’re at it.
In the 1930s, N.W. Ayer, for their client DeBeers, literally invented the tradition of purchasing diamonds as wedding and engagement gifts, and their stronghold on the market persists today. It is said that that the moment you purchase a diamond ring it is worth 50% of its original value. Not that they often get resold by the original buyer/recipient – they’re forever. Like marriage. Or. Wait. Well marriage once was a lot more ‘forever’ and even after divorces many people likely hold on to their wedding rings forever. This was another brilliant aspect of the campaign, as diamonds aren’t inherently all that valuable. DeBeers didn’t want people reselling them and creating a large secondary market. No. No. No.
My point is we’re being sold shit all the time. Literally. And when you stop buying what they’re selling they’ll do their best to convince you that this new thing is the next wave, simply because they said so.
But what do you really want to do with your life? Watch your new Samsung Ultra-Uber-Mega Definition television and work until the Ultra-Uber-Mega II + comes out so you can buy it? Or would you like to quit with this cycle and to get outside or go make tell someone you care about them or just go look up even. Do this every time you would have watched TV, and you’ll be living life on your terms in no time.