Apparently there was another one of those Buy Nothing Days scheduled for last Friday. I didn't actually buy anything that day, though the motivation was more "No way am I going to throw myself in the path of a stampede" than sticking it to The Man. (The Man, you may remember, is a neighbor.) I did spend some money — I paid my wireless bill online — but that was the extent of my monetary outflow. Besides, it was my birthday, and I was dressed accordingly, so to speak, and I intended to remain that way for the full 24 hours.

Saturday's shopping was pretty insignificant as well: I hit up Batteries Plus for a couple of A23s — they run the remote for the garage-door opener — and blew $65 at the supermarket, which was practically deserted, perhaps because everyone had spent all their money on Friday.

Now admittedly there are a few gadgets I covet now and then, and I still buy the occasional book or "record" album. But, to rework a phrase of Barack Obama's, I'm starting to believe there's a point where you've accumulated enough stuff. I have a whole room full of stuff that I haven't been able to get organized in eight years, and I am loath to add to it if I can help it. (Is it really necessary for me to have every issue of Entertainment Weekly? It didn't matter so much for the first few years, but with issue #1200 imminent — well, you get the idea. I blame Jeff Jarvis.)

I am not, please note, pointing a finger at those of a more acquisitive nature. Said nature, it seems, is hard-coded into our genes:

It's really quite simple. Walmart sent its jobs to China because the workers are cheaper. And Walmart's fat, sweatpants-swaddled American patrons elbowed one another for toys because they were cheaper. Notice a pattern? Corporate robber barons and minimum-wage mall-shoppers are both "humans" and therefore are subject to "human nature." Like squirrels dreading the winter, they tend to hoard resources and will stuff their faces and load their arms with as much garbage as they can get away with until they're forcibly restrained.

And I'm not about to claim some sort of dubious moral superiority by dint of acting with (occasional) restraint. It helps that I operate mostly on a cash-only basis these days, which helps to offset the days when I didn't. But really, what else do I need? I have my house, and my house is full of stuff. George Carlin, of course, understood this phenomenon, perhaps better than anyone.

Next year, my birthday won't be on Black Friday, mostly because, well, it's on a Sunday. I don't much like shopping on Sunday anyway, not least because I can't duck into Chick-fil-A for lunch. And to some extent, I resent the idea that I must consume vast quantities of stuff to prop up the economy: it's not my responsibility to support anyone's business model, except for the business I'm actually in. As for Walmart, they've done us all a significant favor: by putting downward pressure on prices in general, they've made it unnecessary to go to Walmart, which, if you've ever seen a Supercenter in Full Tilt Boogie mode, counts as a blessing, and not just on Sunday either.

The Vent

#751
  1 December 2011

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