The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

It's Black Friday - Cue the Insanity

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Explodes!I admit it. I'm not a very good consumer.

Most of the time, I buy stuff I need. The rest of the time is buying stuff I want. I'd say I follow the 80/20 rule on that. Perhaps 90/10.

It's early morning and the media's already reporting on the "Black Friday" retail frenzy under way in North America.

I don't get it.

I mean, I understand people need stuff.

What I don't understand is why they think they need the things they buy on Black Friday.

From what I can tell, not a lot of people are running out and stocking up on essentials. It's the stuff we're told we need to buy. You know - the stuff that says "you've made it". I'll wager large screen televisions are going to be filling many shopping baskets today.

The money being spent today is "good for the economy". I believe the economy is important, but I also believe that a heavy focus on consumerism is unhealthy. I also believe we don't consider other important things like the environment or the emotional state of our population when we talk about the economy. From my perspective, everything is connected more deeply than we care to think about.

While I don't get the need for the shopping frenzies taking place all across the continent, I do see the need for many things that perhaps are going unnoticed today. There are still hungry people in our communities. People are still living in poverty, despite working full time (or more). Does the consumer frenzy notice or benefit the people in our society who need our help the most?

I don't know. What I do hope is that each person who is participating in the shopping maelstrom today takes a moment to reflect and be grateful for what they have. From that gratitude, I then hope they will take an action that benefits their community. Purchase something from a small business. Make a donation to a local charity. Buy some groceries for the food bank.

I guess I wouldn't mind Black Friday so much if it were more balanced. Go ahead and buy whatever you like, as long as you invest the same amount of money and energy into your community. I think that's what's missing from the conversation. Balance. A ton of money is invested into grooming us to be better consumers. No money is invested into grooming us to be better citizens.

Sadly, money talks, and it shows.


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