Friday is “BND.” Celebrate it!

Based on the increased energy coming from commercials, this Friday purports to be a day of great significance. Every retailer is having a sale and what else is there to do on a Friday but shop. It seems only natural that we would buy (another) large TV or computer, or take advantage of the “incredible” discounts available at most stores. Sadly, there is something quite disturbing about this situation.

Just as we can be lured into pro-war sentiment—remember post-9/11 and the ubiquitous flags—apparently we can be persuaded quite easily to buy more stuff, particularly if we feel we are getting it for a “steal”. So, what could be wrong with this? We are going to buy new things after all, aren’t we? Why does it matter when we do it? And, definitely, we should try to get the most for our dollar, shouldn’t we?

First off, the compulsion to buy things (which we do to make us feel better, notice that the ads make consumers look cool and savvy) is an addiction. Identified by scholars as affluenza (see PBS program on topic, link), this illness is perhaps the greatest challenge we face as a humanity. Overconsumption causes tremendous problems. For every pound of waste that we “see” (for example that old working TV that is going to be put curbside because the new TV is bigger and has better graphics), it is estimated that ~80 pounds are produced upstream (see Annie Leonard’s The Story of Electronics, ref 1). And much of this upstream electronic waste is highly toxic. So, our addiction has grave consequences for the planet.

Second, our addiction is a false solution. Overconsumption doesn’t bring long term happiness. Psychological research has established that the more materialistic one is, the more unhappy he/she/they tends to be (here is a short video that clarify this, link). In this way, buying something for a pick me up is similar to taking an “upper.” At the end of the day, one feels less happy and has more stress caused by financial difficulties driven by spending money one doesn’t have; actually, substance abuse also tends to be higher for materialist people. Ultimately, we must all find more productive ways to deal with our anxieties and unhappiness. According to experts, more social interaction is highly recommended.

There are many resources for those that are looking to fight against consumerism.
Enough (link) is a group in England focused on this. Adbusters is a journal that has lots of material on the subject (link). Buy Nothing Day is this Friday, that sounds a lot better than “Black Friday,” doesn’t it? (link to Adbusters’ BND page!) So, join the anti-consumeristic movement this Friday and feel good about yourself in a way that is powerful, purposeful, and longer lasting. Let others know too, because that is how it will become the new norm. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

4 thoughts on “Friday is “BND.” Celebrate it!”

  1. Tim Kasser’s work, for instance, THE HIGH PRICE OF MATERIALSM, is worth paying attention to for anyone concerned with the relationships between well-being and ad-pushed behaviors. One of my theories is that the effective “appetite arousal” techniques embedded in advertisements of all sorts drive many individuals, especially those with limited financial resources, to unconsciously attempt to satisfy their hunger for things practically beyond their reach with food, which is now remarkably inexpensive. The result, more poor overweight people than would be the case if advertising was not engendering so much “diffuse” desire.

    1. No, please. In fact come to my talk at Bioneers in February (Peter has specifics, or I do) and I will lay it out more clearly. “Obesity” is an odd concept — it has no real meaning except ‘quite fat.’ And no scientific basis at all. The measure used to quantify body weight, BMI, is not only flawed for muscular bodies, the BMI “ideal” does NOT correlate with longevity! Nope, people who are in the “overweight” and the lower end of “obese” categories experience a 6% and 5% *decreased* mortality! “Ideal” weight is an aesthetic standard. They call it the obesity paradox, but really it’s just data they don’t much like. Given that the weight-loss industry is estimated in the US alone at some $80 billion a year … can’t imagine why truth would be disliked!

      Higher within setpoint weights are real, due to USians’ attempts at redemption. Saturated fat generally lowers cholesterol AND weight, at least separate from high carb intake. We have it backward — carbs are the culprit. Sedentary lifestyles don’t help our bodies, but prior semi-starvation, whether it’s from poverty and insufficient food or awful food being cheap, or from repeat dieting, is the biggest link to higher weights. And the body, being wise and defending against famine, usually doesn’t allow reversal, even apparently triggering gene changes in the next gen. What did women in the 50s do routinely? Diet. Coercively, but still they did it. And their children? Are fatter than previous generations. So what else happened in the 70s and 80s? People really worked to cut fat out of their diets … and if you take out fat you have to put in either carbs (bad, trigger massive insulin response) or protein (of which some 60% can be converted to carbs). So take the no-fat mandate, factor in dieting and add the increase in poverty and the huge subsidies for grain-based foods, and it’s pretty inevitable.

      What doesn’t pan out scientifically is that fat people eat more. In fact repeat dieters (and virtually no fat person has remained untortured with fat stigma leading to attempts at thin redemption in this “obese”-bantying culture) generally eat less. Bennett & Gurin have a great book, 1983 I think, that explains the century of science showing this; it’s been replicated often since, too.

      Unless you’re a fat person yourself, isn’t this just another form of Othering, of creating Those People who get objectified and then comfortably studied from the safety of privilege? I think it probably is. And I’m not interested in guilting you, only in giving you facts adequate to prompting your stepping off the “obesity” bandwagon and the related theorizing on those you really don’t understand.

  2. Thanks, Peter, great comment, great video (except all the characters are white).
    Important to remember that while the affluent are awash in consumer, luxury goods, many people in poor communities lack even the essentials. The values proposition needs to incorporate that in any analysis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *