We need to talk.
No, we’re so totally not breaking up, so please put the suitcase away and don’t call your mother. And don’t send one of your chemically-imbalanced totes-besties to flame me in the comments section. This is not about my love for you or about our relationship, so you can relax.
This is about what you stand for, my dear. We need to get some priorities straight.
I am well aware that you and some of your popular, crunchy friends are behind a couple of wonderful movements of which I approve. I am talking about buying handmade presents this Christmas and of boycotting the bloated, disgusting consumerfest that is Black Friday. And I both laud and applaud these commitments, you know? I think the crass, gross commercialization that pervades our zeitgeist is stifling and rude and it completely misses the point of the season and the spirit of giving. And while I still think that Wal-Mart has its place in society (especially in places where there is ONLY Wal-Mart), the truth is that ALL big box corporations in general also need to be kept in check. All of that Chinese-manufactured plastic does not belong in toy bins or underfoot on Christmas evening, as you’re trying to get another cup of tea while fighting the fog of tryptophan-induced lethargy.
I think you know what part I’m starting to get a little irked about, though.
It’s the hypocrisy, my dear. Always, the hypocrisy.
Buying handmade goods from vendors who lovingly and painstakingly devote hours to gathering the best, most earth-friendly and gorgeously put-together materials and then assemble them making not just a toy or a sweater or a pair of shoes but a one-of-a-kind item that is more collectible than disposable is… is… is…
…. a luxury not everyone can afford.
It’s a luxury. Luxuries cost money. Until very recently, luxuries were only reserved for the truly rich, but our buoyant society –particularly in this first-world country where I sit typing away on my pushing-23-on-the-BMI-scale butt– has opened the door for many people who couldn’t previously do it to actually afford luxury. But there are still many who cannot. Or, judging by credit ratings, should not.
Go through any of the excellent stores on Etsy or through this beautiful store, and discover that if you truly want gorgeous, artistic, excellent quality items, you are looking to pay upwards of $20 for most items, without counting postage. Now, this is fine and I highly encourage you to support artists and support handmade goods. I think that is not unreasonable considering that you are sitting in your comfortable house with a fast internet connection and disposable income enough to allow you to loiter and read my rambling –or you’re likely even getting paid while reading my rambling, as you are blogging and reading blogs from your well-paid job.
I believe that the spirit of buying handmade is good, but maybe it shouldn’t be as much "buying" as "making" handmade. I realize this doesn’t sell anything at Etsy stores and the results are not quite as glamorous as you would like them to be. But at least now my conscience is clear in that respect.
Have you ever gone to the mall on Black Friday, Internets?
No, neither have I.
Well, okay. I lie: I have actually stepped into a mall on a day after Thanksgiving before, but never under the Black Friday "rager" label. Some malls open at midnight; some malls offer special shuttles, dinners, booze, gifts and additional discounts; some even offer accommodations and spa packages and things that start to sound more like vacation to DiscountLand rather than just the ol’ checking items off your good-will-toward-men list.
A few days before the birth of Herr Meow, I waddled along with Monsieur Meow over to the mall. He’d seen a Bluetooth cellphone set ("the asshole-maker") on sale at RadioShack, and we thought we’d just see how things were. We walked from the theaters to the store and were stunned to find it pretty much empty, except for a sleepy-looking couple of employees. When we asked about the headset, we were just given a puzzled look and were told of the horrid locust wave of people that came through and bought up everything in the morning. One of the guys was even impressed that they’d left the display box behind.
However, does the onslaught of cannibal consumers during a one-day shopping orgy stop the onslaught of cannibal consumers who will go to the mall, clog up the roads, take up all the parking spaces and shop in a sale-seeking zombielike attitude for the remaining Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve?
For that matter, will any of this campaigning, writing, and pointing of fingers stop anyone from buying things, things, and more things up until the doors aren’t open anymore before Christmas day is upon us?
So I propose something drastic, simple, and very hard to comply with:
Try to avoid shopping altogether, Internets. If you must shop, make it small, meaningful, and if possible, handmade.
Stop giving into the impulse buy.
Stay away from Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, KMart, IKEA and other stores that encourage uncurbed spending. Learn how to make do with what you have.
I know I’ll probably fail, but it’ll make it harder to own up to my failures if you are here by my side to broadcast them to the whole wide world. It’ll make you and me less hypocritical, by default.
And that is how relationships stay strong, isn’t it, Internets?
Now let me whisper in your ear that I love you and be done with this, k?