By Johanna Fleischman and Elvis Wong
Black Friday fails to save consumer dollars. It’s true, Nike and PacSun promote all-store discount sales for their already over-priced items, and spenders hunt in packs to grab the best deals, but is all of this spending necessary? Would these shoppers have gotten up at odiously early hours were it not for the thousands of advertised discounts? The holiday season marks the start of profuse spending; businesses use this to their advantage. Consumers take the bait and the businesses relish the prize.
Stores benefit from the holiday season by encouraging consumers to spend, spend again, and spend some more. Retail businesses care about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza in only a financial manner: they trick consumers into buying the hottest, most innovative items that purchasers do not need. Mindless and frenzied shoppers wait in lines for hours to purchase new electronics that they purchased the previous year, all under the assumption that spending during the holidays is both necessary.
Christmas represents Jesus’ birthday? Oh yeah.
People are gradually forgetting the original meaning of the holiday season. Instead of looking forward to the spirit of gift-gifting and creating memories with family and friends, children are more focused on the new computer or gaming console lying under their tree. Parents are creating bigger holes in their wallets and larger debts on their credit cards. Simultaneously, stores are primarily concerned about holiday sales and revenue. The idea of selfless giving has all but vanished from the holidays.
More than our knowledge of the holidays is hurting.
Consumerism is not only damaging human ethics and supporting materialism, it is hurting the environment. In fact, the majority of animal extinction and resource depletion is a direct result of humans’ insatiable needs. This dilemma is partly due to the transformation of what were originally luxuries to what are now considered as necessities. According to National Geographic News, televisions, cell phones, and computers—former luxuries—are now deemed crucial provisions in developed countries.
The United Nations presented startling statistics and they claim, “The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects.” 20% of the world consumes about 86% of the world’s resources and the poorest 20% consume 1.3%. The exponential growth of consumerism is widening the gap between the rich and the poor, depleting earth’s national resources, and promoting materialism and globalization. Although wealth and possessions may bring short-term satisfaction to the portion of humanity that enjoys it, in the long-term this desire will affect the future quality of life. All of these startling statistics are only supported by corporations’ demand to deform the holidays into a global money-making phenomenon.
…And is our society happier?
Excessive consumerism and globalization is not leading to a happier society. Credit card debts, longer working hours, less healthy lifestyles, and the deteriorating environment incurred by unneeded spending are leading to higher stress levels and additional materialistic views in communities.
The holidays should not revolve around wish lists and materialistic desires. Society needs to return to the original meaning of gift giving: creating happy memories instead of adding to materialism.