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Just another manic (Black) Friday

— by Nilgin Yusuf

Photo via Pexels

 

 

One of the best thing about adult life is being able to bail out of anything you don’t want to do. With perspective and experience, we understand what matters and what doesn’t; what’s personally meaningful and what’s expected or about keeping others happy. I’m the person who draws the curtains at Halloween and saves pumpkins for soup. During Royal weddings and important matches, I’ll go for long walks, preferably deep in the woods. And on Black Friday, I may do any number of things but categorically will not be shopping.

I cottoned onto the retail’s Calendar of Persuasion about a decade ago. This epiphany came when I realised that every month, there’s a date or incentive, designed to entice money from our accounts. It might be an annual ritual, occasion or a tantalising sales opportunity. It might be Mother’s Day, Fathers or Valentines, Christmas, Easter or Bonfire Night. It might have its roots in religion or cultural history, or might have been invented by card manufacturers and florists, but by the time it hits us, through the power of media and advertising, it’s acquired real value if not mythic status.

The high point of this calendar, the zenith of spending possibility, the manna for all bargains hunters is November 26th, Black Friday. According to the statistics British consumers plan to spend an estimated 4.8 billion pounds on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – with the average Brit spending 295.00 (a predicted drop from 1.2 billion in 2019 which saw retail sales of 5.6 billion.) Black Friday is shopping as extreme sport. Some unfortunates have actually died during the feverish scrums. Others get away more lightly with migraines or sprained wrists from carrying laden shopping baskets. And of course, the only danger from online shopping is to your bank balance.

I do understand shopping can be a pleasurable past time. When you upgrade to some sleeker, more efficient or smarter piece of technology, it feels great. To finally lay hands on something that’s been powerfully wanted represents a dizzying consummation. But the desire, the chase, the triumph of possession, are passing highs. Arguably, there’s greater satisfaction and power in resisting the pressure to purchase which is why Buy Nothing Today was set up in September 1992 by Canadian artist, Ted Dave. This means of personal protest, is when participants pledge to buy nothing at all is to raise awareness of the environmental, social, and political consequences of overconsumption. In 1997, the date of BND was repositioned in direct opposition with Black Friday, setting up an alternative agenda in our empire of consumerism.

While I love a bargain, I prefer to shop on my own terms and find treasures in my own time, not have them foisted on me. I don’t want to be a guinea pig in some consumer phycologist’s masterplan manipulated by phony financial incentives: offers that can’t be refused, deals that can’t be walked away from, discounts never to be repeated. Shopaholics eventually learn the hole inside cannot be fixed with things; that buying more stuff is not the meaning of life or a hot wire to happiness. Love, friendship, family, health, a life’s purpose; the joy of a good book or thrill of a fresh experience, the freedom to observe the cycles and beauty of nature, the ability to laugh or share interests with others these things cannot be bought not on Black Friday nor any other day. Life’s greatest riches have no discount tag, because they’re free to start with.

 

Nilgin Yusuf is a freelance writer. You can find her on Twitter @Nilgin and Instagram @nilgin_yusuf

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