Lily Sieradzki | Media Junkie
Consumerism, Christmas and YOU
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 09:12
In my final column of the semester, before I jet off to Prague in the spring (see y’all suckers later ... but also insert brief moment of nostalgia here), I want to discuss something near and dear to our hearts — the holidays. You see, this Thanksgiving I was hit with a stomach virus, which meant a) I couldn’t eat, b) I COULDN’T EAT and c) I watched more TV than was good for me.
So while the rest of the world was eating turkey and stuffing, I was at home staring at Christmas advertising (and also vomiting). This included an ad for some department store where a bunch of white people stood in a white kitchen and sang “Deck the Halls” but replaced every syllable with “shop.” Barf (lol). There were also countless classic ads with the whole family waking up on magical Christmas morning, ripping open their gifts and becoming the happiest and most functional family ever — all because of a new pair of freaking roller skates.
As you can probably tell, Christmas ads drive me crazy. In fact, any omnipresent, insistent reminder that I am a consumer — I must consume not only for the good of my economy but also for the good of my family and the CHRISTMAS SPIRIT — bothers me. It isn’t primarily about the holiday, at least for the corporations. It’s about getting us to buy their things, and they’re making that very clear.
Quick disclaimer that yes, I’m Jewish, and my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. For Hannukah (which only includes gift-giving because it absorbed that consumer aspect from Christmas), we do very small, highly practical gifts for all eight nights. Think socks. I will admit that I used to resent Christmas because of not being able to celebrate it and get big fancy gifts. Now I don’t have a problem with it, I just see it for what it is: the ultimate capitalist American holiday.
Moving onto Black Friday. This is where it all peaks, where people’s absolutely insane behavior to get the best deal just starts to astound. I really have no words. The fact that there are riots, injuries and deaths in the pursuit of saving money on Christmas presents ... I am honestly embarrassed by it. There’s nothing wrong with a little Christmas shopping, but there is something wrong with becoming a crazy person in the process.
But wait, there’s also Cyber Monday, the day set aside for online shopping. I didn’t know that was a thing, did you? And, to top it all off, #GivingTuesday, a new Twitter phenomenon that began last year, encourages people to donate to a charity of their choice. Well, isn’t that obvious. It’s a last-ditch attempt to make us feel good about all the money we just spent by giving more money to a good cause. While charities, who do important work, may benefit tangibly from #GivingTuesday, it’s really our guilty consumer conscience that benefits the most.
I don’t want to downplay the very real religious and spiritual aspects of Christmas. But the holiday, in many ways, is now about the transfer of money and goods, the production of capital for the companies versus the cost for the consumer. But what are the other costs? Remember that there are people involved in this staggeringly unequal economic system of ours. There are low-wage workers who barely make enough to live on, let alone buy Christmas gifts. No donation to a charity is going to fix that problem — it’s structural, and we all live in and perpetuate the structure in our society.
So have a very happy Christmas, consume consciously and have fun at Spring Fling. Peace, love, Tufts Daily.
Lily Sieradzki is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at Lily.Sieradzki@tufts.edu.