Two thirds of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending and 50-75% of most retailers annual profits are generated during December. (The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani) If a majority embraced a rebellious Christmas and avoided the lure of consumerism, it would have the potential to destroy the economy. What does this tell us? To be certain this doesn’t happen, consumers are encouraged to make this year’s Christmas season more prosperous than the last.
One of consumerism’s greatest problems has been: “How do we convince people to buy things they don’t really need?” After the Industrial Revolution, products were being manufactured faster than people could buy them. In order to keep this productivity alive, “advertising” was born. The solution would have to be people buying more items then they needed more often than they wanted. The new business goal was to no longer manufacture a “product” but to manufacture “desire”. Advertising became a way of convincing people to buy products they didn’t know they wanted. “Ponder this: before Listerine there is no mention in popular culture of bad breath.” (James Twitchell, Shopping for God) Ads started to promise products would bring more comfort, status, success, happiness and even sex to those who would purchase.
The New York Times stated, “Every day each American is exposed to 3500 desire-inducing advertisements, all promising that satisfaction is just one more purchase away.” Rodney Clapp states, “The consumer is schooled in instability. He or she is never to be satisfied – at least not for long. The consumer is tutored that people basically consist of unmet needs that can be appeased by commodified goods and experiences.” Unfortunately, if people began suppressing their desires, only buying what they needed, our economy would literally collapse.
What if we could see advertising, and even Christmas-targetting marketing for what it really is: creating desire for more? Is it possible for us to enter into a Christmas that doesn’t require spending money on useless gifts just because we’re “supposed” to give and receive presents? What if Christmas could be free of children demanding wish lists? What if family, giving, thankfulness and love made its way to the forefront?
What would that even look like? I dare you to answer that question for your family specifically. Could it mean volunteering as a family, making homemade gifts, looking for ways to reach out to neighbours and your community? Could it mean getting out of the mall-matrix and your eyes open to those in need around you?
I’d like to invite you to join a conspiracy – a rebellion – to find out how Christmas can be meaningful. Join us here.
Dare you 🙂