All of you who have a pulse know that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the single most crazy shopping day in the United States.
It is simply called “Black Friday” and the lines to get into most places are ridiculous. I got in line once 9 years ago to get a digital camera for our churchplant in hopes of saving Quest a few dollars and I will NEVER do that again – no matter how much I love my church. To give you a glimpse of how crazy things can be, search YouTube to witness some crazy riots – all in search for the best deal.
So, I’ve been a fan of the Buy Nothing Day movement for several years but have had some recent reservations.
What is Buy Nothing Day?
Buy Nothing Day is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. In 2007, Buy Nothing Day falls on November 23rd in North America and November 24th internationally. It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine.
The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in September of 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.”In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, which is one of the top 10 busiest shopping days in the United States. Outside of North America, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on the following Saturday. Despite controversies, Adbusters managed to advertise Buy Nothing Day on CNN, but many other major television networks declined to air their ads. Soon, campaigns started appearing in United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Participation now includes more than 65 nations…[from wikipedia]
So in years past, I’ve attempted to do my part – not just on Buy Nothing Day but to simply consume less. Although I have to be honest here. I did swing by Goodwill yesterday to look for some used sports equipment for the kids but walked away with a pair of pants for myself for $2.49. So…I’m a hypocrite.
I have numerous folks – friends, churchgoers, and fellow bloggers – that are supporters of Buy Nothing Day. I get it, support it, and stand with them – sort of.
For our conscience?
Why my reservations? I’m still moved by a conversation I had with a friend couple months ago that challenged my support for Buy Nothing Day. This friend who is African-American said some interesting stuff [paraphrasing]:
Buy Nothing Day is basically a thing of and for White folks and comfy Middle Class folks like you, Eugene, who have had the privilege of consumption their whole life. And now, they can afford to start things like Buy Nothing Day.
True, it speaks to the issue of over-consumption but how much of it is to appease their guilty consciences. I’m also very skeptical and cynical of Christians who’ve jumped on this bandwagon – the “enlightened evangelicals” who also come from a place of privilege. Stuff like this sickens me because it has such little idea about the plight of minorities and low income folks that are trying to survive.
The thing that got to me was the story he shared about some of his family and friends who simply NEED to make many of their major purchases on that day. Specifically, he shared about his uncle and aunt from the Midwest. They get in line every year in the frigid cold here hours before the retail store opens at 5 or 6 am because it’s the only way they’re able to get their kids the necessary computer and tech gear to keep up with other students in their schools.
I’m not dismissing the cause behind Buy Nothing Day. We need to address this because us Westerners and particularly, Americans – including me – are just gluttonous. I’m thinking of “The Story of Stuff” here…
But let’s be real here.
Black Friday shopping mean different things for different folks. For many of us, it’s a game, a sport and an event we mark but for others, it’s a matter of necessity. This is why I have reservations about Buy Nothing Day.
Perhaps, the majority of us should sincerely adopt Buy Nothing Day and…
let those who truly need the “doorbusters” be the first in line – for a change.
* originally posted in November 2007