Black Friday: An Orgy of Trinkets and Baubles

6306757443_fdca6b18e1_b
What’s the first thing you do after you spend a day being thankful for all that you have? Run out and buy more stuff, of course. Immediately after the uniquely North-American holiday of Thanksgiving, where a revisionist history of European expansionism and genocide of indigenous peoples have morphed into the more socially acceptable event of “spending time with family in thanks for all that we have,” comes yet another uniquely American event: Black Friday.

7465424794_a03349f351_o

Only hours after stuffing as much food as possible into the already largest bellies on the planet, the singular goal of the largest consumer society on Earth is to get out of their homes to purchase as much of tomorrow’s waste as possible. American society depends on it. It is considered a patriotic duty to prime the pump of the largest waste machine on the planet so as to fill the coffers of the corporations that are supposed to provide the jobs for the citizens, to earn more money, so that they can buy more trinkets and baubles, so that the corporations can make more money.

10344870503_d209576cf2_c

To purchase items, as a simple act in and of itself, is, of course, not an inherently evil exercise. Particularly items of necessity. It is the spectacle of wanton consumerism, greed, and childish must-have-it that is repulsive. Only days after a Climate Summit, tons of next years’ needless waste will roll off the shelves of United States retailers into the sweating palms of gadget-crazed shopaholics. Yesterday’s versions of the same things will be discarded by the garbage-truck loads, and the trash heaps that we hide from ourselves will inch up just a little higher than every other week that we ship our no-longer wanted toys off with our friendly neighborhood sanitation workers.

10344667964_bcf851fc3d_z

Much of the rest of the world sits in disgust, and rightly so, as the planet’s #1 consumer of tomorrow’s waste gorges itself like a morbidly obese glutton with bacon-fat dripping down its chin. The intoxicated glee on the faces of the manic and frenzied shoppers who have camped out, stood in queues lapping giant shopping centers, and braved the stampedes — that have resulted in several deaths and multiple injuries — to purchase that new electronic toy for less, a week before everyone else can buy it, is nothing short of disgusting. All concern for the consequences of their actions and unbridled greed are washed away by the joy of owning something, anything, new that they can talk about and show to others. Months from now, if not weeks, these items will be replaced by the next little-improved, or non-improved, yet touted as new-and-improved, version of the same thing, and the cycle will repeat.

10510577023_df0c91d391_c

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on Black Friday, and most of it will be on disposable goods destined for landfills, rivers, and oceans. Nations around the world, whose resources are exploited, and environment polluted by the multinational corporations that produce of the objects of US-consumer desire, are trying to figure out how to deal with climate change, rising oceans and fresh-water shortages while those same corporations spend billions on denying the facts of climate change. Encouraged by the endless greed and indefatigable consumerism of the American people and their willingness to be blissfully misinformed, Black Friday takes on an entirely new meaning in relation to the environment.

11030324826_14f8b68c03_o

Only days after a global summit on climate change, as you get home and fire up your new toy, and stuff the completely unnecessary packaging into your garbage pail, remember that what you count as savings is yours alone. The cost to the environment, the people exploited in its production, and the world that we all share, are much greater than the 30-50 percent you saved off the ridiculously inflated every-day price. Enjoy your trinkets and baubles, and the items that you had to purchase for someone because this is the only way you have learned to express your love and appreciation for them, and realize that it has cost all of us yet more of the environmental integrity that we all require to survive.

Editor’s Note: Photograph one Gigi Ibrahim. Photographs two and five by Sam Leighton and photographs three and four by Brs Meas.

 

email
Share

One Response to Black Friday: An Orgy of Trinkets and Baubles

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Kim Feil
    November 30, 2013 at 6:41 am

    zero sum game -one wins (corporations), one loses (biosphere)