the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: consumerism

The Performance Art of “Buy Nothing Day”

(I do like this poster!)

I’m all for social activism, but there is activism that tries to create change and there is activism that seems more of a useless symbolic gesture.  Social activists have established tomorrow as Buy Nothing Day.  It was founded by Vancouver performance artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine, and I have seen it heavily promoted on Twitter and on blogs.

“Buy Nothing Day is the biggest 24-hour moratorium against consumerism. People around the world will make a pact to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement.”

I think it is a terrific idea — a day to celebrate something that isn’t connected with “buying.”  Finally, a holiday which hasn’t been taken over by Hallmark!  But to me, creating a Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday is childish, like refusing to go to Church on Easter Sunday to spite your parents.

For 364 days of the year, modern life is filled with advertising and consumer-oriented talk, especially online.    Ninety percent of the internet — and YOUR BLOGS and conferences — seems to be about buying, selling, marketing, and promoting, either a product, some swag,  some friend’s book, some giveaway, each other, or your services.

So I like Buy Nothing Day.  But why not make it on March 2 or August 25?  Because by making it on Black Friday, the concept gets publicity — and in the modern world that is more important than creating real change.  It doesn’t surprise me that a performance artist is involved in this project, and he is able to get his own name in the newspapers.  Why not make this “day” into something REAL — an event that the public can truly participate in — rather than a nose tweak?

It is Christmas time.  The best deals of the Holiday season are in the stores this weekend.  Sure Black Friday is ridiculous, with stores opening up at 4AM, and giving special deals to those who show up in their pajamas.  But money is tight.  Why shouldn’t consumers be shopping now?  If there is ONE DAY they should be shopping is NOW!  There are some stores that make 70% of their profits during the shopping days before Christmas.

And with the economy spiralling out of control, what could be better for our neighborhoods than doing a little shopping in our local stores?  Who does it help when the stores close down in our neighborhoods?  Isn’t it bad when people lose jobs and the crime rate increases?  How does this day make me ponder the rampant consumerism of our country?  The performance art aspect of the stunt makes me want to go out and support the economy so my neighborhood can improve.

I would have more sympathy for this day if it was somehow connected with the commercialism of Christmas.  But this protest has nothing to do with wanting to bring religion back to the Holidays.  It is just anti-consumerism — using the same advertising-driven media to promote itself.

I love the idea of Buy Nothing Day.  I think it should be moved to its own date.  Then it would be ABOUT SOMETHING, and not a publicity stunt.  If it was on less confrontational date, everyone can participate, and we could all ponder a less consumer-oriented America.

Good luck to all of those protesting.   If you are participating, please remember to take off your BlogHer advertising tomorrow promoting JCPenney.

(by the way, if you see any good deals for digital cameras online, please email me!)

And the Blogger’s Arts and Crafts fair is still open for business.  Buying handmade is cool, too.

Blame it on the Sea Monkeys

I really wanted to get one of those cool mirrors that hang in the shower and don’t fog up.  What joy it would be — I could shave in the shower!   Yesterday, I was with Sophia in Big Lots.   They had one for $6.98.  Sophia said it was a piece of junk and that I should buy one from Sharper Image.   I didn’t listen.  How bad could it be?  The box said it was guaranteed.

After my first shower with the mirror, here’s the moral of the story.   It is a piece of junk.

I felt the need to console myself, to remind myself that I’m not usually a consumer of crappy products that don’t live up to their advertising.

This afternoon, I was browsing the web when I came to Steve Conley’s cool site, a “look at some of the best, most-memorable, and most-audacious ads from American comic books.”

I came face to face with my past, a part of my life that I have been trying to hide from.   Here, laughing at me from my Samsung screen was the product that forced me into this life of bad consumerism.   Yes, damn you, sea monkeys!

(via Steve Conley)

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial