To Black Friday……..
I had the dubious fortune of visiting my local mall on Black Friday. Although the crowds were not quite as thick as I had expected, and the pace wasn’t quite as frantic as I’ve experienced in the past, a common thread still existed which has run through every Black Friday that I have experienced: the thrill of acquisition, and state of mind and behaviors that accompany it. Or maybe I should call it a fever, because that is almost what it seems to have become. Holiday shoppers become so single-minded and self-absorbed in their desire to buy, that they either completely lose touch with their surroundings as they shove past you to get to their destination; or they appear inconsiderate and selfish as they aggressively steal a parking space that you have been waiting for for 15 minutes; or my favorite: they slyly butt in front of a long line of patient shoppers waiting to reach the Holy Grail of the cash register.
……. and Beyond!
As Black Friday morphed into “Black Friday Extended All Week!”, and Cyber Monday became “Cyber Week”, I started thinking even more about this phenomenon, which, after all, isn’t relegated to only the holidays. However, it does seem to take on gargantuan proportions, beginning with Thanksgiving, and continuing to the day before Christmas (not to mention the days following Christmas for the dreaded RETURNS). What really prompted me to consider this whole issue was this: I noticed how very disconnected people were from each other. I could see this manifested in the constant texting, in the lack of eye contact, in the shoving past people in aisles without an apology, and in the lack of consideration demonstrated by almost abusive behavior to fellow shoppers and sales employees alike.
Under “normal” circumstances, I think that we have a tendency to become focused on material possessions anyway. The acquisition of these items often brings us only fleeting joy, and is often used to try and fill a void that exists. People don’t realize that the void is one that can’t be “cured” with material wealth, and that the buying begets more buying and more acquisition, in a fruitless attempt to keep that void filled.
During this past week, and in the upcoming three weeks until Christmas, this disconnect from our internal and external surroundings is and will be even further magnified. I am absolutely certain that this is at least one of the major factors contributing to holiday stress and depression.
There is no easy answer to this very cultural behavior, except to begin with awareness, and move forward from there. It is hard to swim against this stream of greedy need for acquisition, and actually slow down to smell the roses (or at least a tea or coffee at the local coffee bar). But it can help to remember the origins of Christmas, and to also connect with the spirit of giving. And this doesn’t just mean giving presents to your family and friends, but also giving your time, energy, money or whatever resources you may have available to you, to those who are less fortunate. Holiday shopping can be a joyful experience if it is done with good intention. Giving is about connecting with and loving ourselves and our fellow human beings in the Universe. We need to remember that we are ALL in this journey together.
- The holidays: extra shopping or extra kindness? (csmonitor.com)