I Shop Therefore I Am
Kevin Salwen on Culture
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I ate a 9 a.m. breakfast at a hotel with my family. That might have been my first mistake: I wasn't shopping.
As the lobby TVs offered up the news of the day, I began to realize how out of step I am with the rest of America. According to CNN and the Today Show (on different TVs providing the 'news' of the morning), the top 4 stories were each about, you guessed it, shopping. There were discounts. There were people waiting overnight. There were sleepy-eyed people finding 'just the right bargains.' There were amazing new inventions for the season -- a video version of an old board game, remarkable! As if this were anything remotely close to news.
What the hell is going on here? I know that the week after Thanksgiving has long been about merchandising. I know that FDR once was convinced by merchants to move up Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November so that the Christmas selling season could be a week longer (he put it back after an outcry). I know that retailers get half their profits in this single 4-week stretch. I know, I know.
But the obsession with shopping seems nuts to me. We now have names for all this: Black Friday for the day after Thanksgiving (the day that helps retailers get into the black) and now today is being dubbed Cyber Monday because it's when people return to their T-1 equipped offices to shop online. Is this all people think about? Is this recreation? Is this what has become normal? It seems absolutely damned crazy and trite. I am alone?