Every year, around this time, my thoughts turn toward home, family, and...the destructive potential of the American market economy. As Americans, we are expected to gather around our tables, give thanks to whatever higher power we may believe in, and enjoy the fruits of another year's harvest together with our families. Then, the day after, we are expected to make a pilgrimage together to a mall, or Wal-Mart, or some other Temple to Cheap Consumer Goods, and pay homage to another god. And every year there is at least one news report of devotees to the dollar trampling one another in the early morning rush to buy.
So, every year, I feel the need to take a step back for a moment and consider what effect my own purchasing habits have on the rest of the world. Certainly, I'm not trampling anyone to grab a coffee at Starbuck's. Nor am I kneeling at the CD racks within the hallowed halls of any capitalist temple by downloading an album on iTunes. In fact, most "Black Fridays" I don't even leave the house. Sometimes, I count myself among the few participants in the annual social protest event known as "Buy Nothing Day." The Buy Nothing Day website calls for a "24-hour moratorium on consumer spending." I can do that. I'd rather not be at the mall on Black Friday anyway. I'm more than happy to sit at home, watch some football, and feast on leftovers.
But, every year I wonder...is this really an effective form of protest? Would it, in reality, be better for me to go out and spend a few bucks for the people who have to work on the day after Thanksgiving in order to afford a decent holiday season? Is my ability to stay at home and comfortably enjoy a hot turkey sandwich and a football game really just symptomatic of the degree to which I am immersed in our consumer culture? Another blog post I found on a fashion blog site through Google makes a similar point. These bloggers suggest that "there needs to be a more sound concept where everyone could bind together and help causes instead of hinder businesses."
Is Buy Nothing Day an effective form of protest? Is Black Friday even a day worth protesting about? Are there other, "more sound concepts" out there for one who is critical of consumer culture, but also skeptical of forms of protest that seem a bit too "easy"?