This weekend has been a crazy one for retailers. The news channels and papers have been full of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Every website has had banners across the top proclaiming Bargains Bargains Bargains… and Facebook has been packed with even more ads and offers.
I hate Black Friday. I dislike Cyber Monday. I think they are both cynical and exploitative inventions designed to set off that little button we all have in our heads called the FOMO button.
FOMO is the Fear Of Missing Out button. We all have it, it’s just different things trigger it for different people. For some, it’s the idea of losing out on the latest gossip that makes insta, snapchat or Facebook such a draw. For others, the idea that someone else is travelling around the world and having every experience possible drives their dream to travel and experience everything possible…. budget and health allowing.
For most earth-bound mortals, shopping triggers our FOMO button most. We are, at heart, a frugal, survivalist race and we know in our deepest parts that we need stuff to survive. Our ancestors laid down stores of nuts, berries and some fruit that would keep. Medieval times developed salted fish and meat to preserve some protein longer. The history of farming and food production is the history of laying down stores and setting aside the stuff we need to survive, until by now we can pretty much be sure that our food supplies will be constant throughout the year. Our FOMO button no longer needs to respond to a scarcity of food, so we’ve adapted mentally. Now we respond to a scarcity of pretty nearly anything else. Just think back over the past 40 years to the Big Christmas Crazes. There is usually always something that is Scarce, a toy or trinket that becomes the Must Have craze. Retailers must rub their hands when a craze takes off, especially if they have the item and their opponent does not.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday nicely sidles in to our brains and tells us that instead of limited items, we have limited time to get the things at the best possible prices. That they will only be such a good bargain for this day/ this weekend/ this week. Think about it and you have seen that Black Friday became the weekend became (this year very noticeably) Black Friday Week. I wonder how many families spent the weekend on their computer or phone checking out the bargains and grabbing the best in the shops because this is The Weekend to get them. And I wonder how many bargains were impulse buys, snapped up at the best possible price and set to be given to someone because they were purchased rather than really wanted? Because, let’s face it, so much shopping now is made because they were available to be purchased rather than really wanted.
And that’s a big part of why the whole weekend/week of shopping is so unhyggely. At a time when we should be concentrating on our families, thinking of others and valuing time together above pretty much anything else, we get bamboozled into spending time and money (both often in short supply) on the unnecessaries of life. And we know this, in our rational minds. We can explain why the time would be better spent with our Nans, children or partners but we still fall into the trap.
It’s nearly the end of Cyber Monday now, so too late to take any great action this year. But it might be a good time to plan our intentions for next year. Next Thanksgiving, if you’re American, why not pledge to honour the whole holiday weekend. Why not make yourself a promise to spend it with those you love, and who love you back. And for Brits as well, take this year to really look at what you buy for Christmas and birthdays and see which gifts actually bring the most enjoyment to you and others. Start planning a low-spend holiday, or a holiday with spending spread throughout the year. Have a Pinterest board dedicated to the gift of experience rather than stuff, and pin places to go, things to do and see rather than just things. Sign up for Buy Nothing Day and plan a different day. Think carefully before you spend and ask yourself does the person you’re buying for actually need this? Really?
And aim to live more and more often in a way that encourages hyggely moments. Plan to have friends for coffee, lunch or supper. Plan a movie marathon. Read a book, go for a walk, borrow a dog, bake a cake, get your sock drawer tidy, visit a relative….. the alternatives are endless. FOMO? No: you aren’t missing out, you are doing a Walden.
Need some more good influence?
I’m always going on about spending time not money. You can get more ideas for free or cheap things to do as a family in my books. They’re all available from Amazon.
If you purchase through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read them and enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I have a Goodreads Author’s Page!
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