No Brains for No Shopping Day

Tomorrow, November 27th, is Buy Nothing Day. People are encouraged to refrain from making any kind of transaction where money is exchanged for goods or services.


Another initiative designed to change humanity!
Just like, but not limited to: Gay Rights Day, Human Rights Day, International Women's Day, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Abuse Prevention Day, Ocean Day, Earth Day, World Day, Save Our Planet Day, Space Day, International Day of Peace, World Animal Day, World Food Day... and the list goes on! Every major cause, disease, and common sense action out there has its day! And these "Days" are conceived to raise our awareness about stuff we should already know and actions we should already be doing. You'd think the mass media would be the most obvious sources of dissemination to ensure that the population is getting the right facts and that everyone is up to date on reality, but no... We need to dedicate entire days to remind us that we shouldn't throw garbage in lakes and beat on elders or treat other races differently, etc... I ask you, what's wrong with this picture?

Apparently, we do need them, so I don't have any problems with these 'theme' days per se, but I do question just how effective and worthwhile these efforts really are in some contexts. For starters, the only people that wholeheartedly participate are the people who are already conscious of the problems and who generally do their share outside of such initiatives.

Other participants? Well, if those 'special' days do present a marketing angle that can be exploited for profit, someone will exploit it to the max. Unfortunately, this is usually in direct correlation with 'public interest' and the only true sign that an "awareness cause", such as Earth Day, has become a great success! And that's when the media truly begins to 'promote' them!

Have you heard anything on the corporate news sources about Buy Nothing Day? Probably not, which exemplifies what I was saying above, but also acts as another example of ineffective activism that doesn't seek proactive ways of using what's there. For one, independent thoughts don't have to be limited to 'indie' modes of far-from-far-reaching means of communications, but as with all else, it's a question of 'right time'.

The fact that organizers chose tomorrow as the Buy Nothing Day boggles the brain! How realistic is that??? As an event aimed at raising awareness, it's destined to fail and , if anything, have an immediate negative effect on consumers rather than a long term positive one. Tomorrow already has a label, it's referred to as Black Friday for a reason! The first Friday after Thanksgiving is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. The concept of "Traditional Christmas Shopping Season" freaks my mind, but I won't get into that right now.

Since not everyone is able to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day, many will do it over the weekend. So People are receiving, others are visiting; people will buy gifts, and frozen peas and flour, and juice and wine and alcohol, and napkins and cardboard plates; and since they're on the move, they'll pay for gas and snacks and restaurants and magazines in airport lounges and in bus terminals; and since most people but retailers have the day off, they'll go to the movies with their kids and...

They know they shouldn't--if they somehow heard about this Buy Nothing initiative, right? and even if they did, people are far too busy to pay attention--but anyway, they couldn't shop the day before and only found out this morning that they needed eggs and baking soda and that Aunt Martha decided to come and she likes the canned cranberries... whatever the reason, people won't care, they'll buy, and because they have to justify it in the heat of all they have to do, they'll feel guilt (most probably unconsciously) rather than see it as an opportunity to reflect on the matter. And for those people that have given it some thought but decided to go to the store anyway, the crowd they'll inevitably find there means the subject is long since out of their heads. That guilt they felt leads to unreasoned negative feelings about a slogan, rather than positive, well-reasoned ones... Harder to walk into an empty store to buy something when you know you shouldn't. Guilt plays a role here as well, you say? But the lack of a crowd makes all the difference, allowing the guilt to be, in this case, productive, so that the person who choses to walk away without making a purchase, actually feels like s/he is contributing... Need I say more?

Organizers should have chosen a quieter moment in the year. Right now, Buy Nothing Day is simply an angry attack on consumerism rather than an opportunity to open up people's minds. And those kinds of things tend to be counterproductive.

A plain ol' regular Monday when stores and such tend to be less active... during a period when humans are more relaxed and open, in a way that doesn't go against the natural laws of humanity; that's the kind of day--one that self-promotes itself in no time--that should have been chosen for this initiative. Seems like a no-brainer...

Just remember: it's not the one day that counts, but how you live each one!

Keep on clicking!


© 2009, Pascal-Denis


LynnAlexander said...

See, I have been doing this for years. We don't hear about it, but we also actively seek infotainment versus "news".
If I had a dollar for every time I attended a vigil or march or event or participated in what some may call the "gimmick of false concern" and heard the question "Does it make a difference though???" I'd have enough dollars at least to go buy the doorbuster special at Target.

What I say is this: it got YOU to ask me the question, you are standing here engaged in conversation, you are now giving me an opportunity to say that YES some of it matters and here is why I think so...

And so on. To me, an opportunity to yap as soundly as I can about these questions is an opportunity I will gladly exploit.

Pascal-Denis Lussier said...

Sure, but the level of discussion it produces only has a small-range effect limited to people who generally are already 'aware'. And that's too bad, and it doesn't have to be that way.
No Shopping Day is typical, badly planned activism at its best. They should have chosen another day out of the year, one where the "system" and "human nature" could have been used as tools.
Tomorrow being what it is, having it now can only help to reinforce the all-too-common image people have about activists being so demanding and unreasonable and unrealistic granola types who are always busy taking the fun out of everything by preaching guilt out of every occasion... all negatives.(which is the one corporations want people to have, right?)

Organizers seem to be blinded by angst when they organize these types of things, either that or they simply want to minimize chances of having any real effect.
Or, maybe the government or big money sets the dates? Who knows, right?
But what I see is yet another reactive method rather than a proactive one - and the proactive ones are the ones I really want to be a part of and where I want my energy to go. Everything else tends to be too anger-based to have long term effects.

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