In the mall, I became consciously aware of my consumerism. I felt guilty, you know? Especially with our generation, post Baby Boomers, the media is dominant in our lives. This goes along with rapidly updating versions of a phone or a game system that we all need. When a store get its major winter shipment in, we get antsy. When the Christmas displays are in the works, we anticipate the pleasure we'll receive, not even from taking a funny picture with Mr. Claus, but from just looking at the prettiness that the season brings to us. All in the mall.
Before I came home from school, my Christmas list consisted of a Queen's jacket that I already bought for my birthday, a standard black yoga mat, a possible digital camera if feasible, and a train ride home. I wanted to come home so badly. I think I wrote that I wanted some hugs too.
Home now, I've added a book bag to my list from Forever 21, and a sweater from H&M. Even though we have a variety of stores on Princess St. in Kingston, I felt like my education was a big enough, an important, significant gift enough. But even now, if I don't open a camera, a book bag that would be convenient, or a yoga mat, I'll go on. My life will continue. And I think even this year, specifically, I won't cry about it, internally. I won't be offended. I won't question. My parents, being my parents, are obviously out shopping for my brother and I right now, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it exactly. Five swipes of the plastic demon, five flimsy boxes wrapped because every store is Going Green, put under a plastic tree that outdates my existence, placed where they all belong, kind of. The things that I want this year for Christmas are not needed. We're just passively and continually, again, participating in our generation and its norm. We don't even say grace anymore. We watch movies instead. Last night even. My dad brought home the annual, most recent Christmas movie he could find, and as per usual, it was bad bad bad. Cheesy! Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. You tell me how the movie would go.
My dad asked me what I thought of the new fifty two inch TV he bought while I was away, along with the treadmill. I told him they were lovely, and asked why he bought the TV. He told me that he bought it because he owed it to himself. A treat. A cupcake. Icing. Yes, he's been feverishly working, so hard, for as long as I can even remember, to be honest. His TV is his. And it's his Christmas gift to himself. Have your parents ever told you not to use something because it was theirs?
I feel sort of like an iconoclast, trying to rid all images that represent the Christmas season. That's not it though. I also feel sort of guilty, trying to peel myself from my generation's norms that have developed, especially so over the past four months that I've been away. When we talk about consumerism, we don't talk about it like it's a good thing, do we? Although it's there, and it's now, and it's happened for a reason, taken straight from my first semester's studies, we cannot abolish the "problem," if that's what it really is, but instead, according to a sociologist named Allan G. Johnson, we are to choose how we are going to participate in this issue, rather than trying to overthrow it overall. So here, my friends, is where I say that, yes, consumerism is there, and no, I'm not sure if it's a problem, but I'm choosing not to participate in it. It funds the economy and continues to make the world turn. This Christmas season could be the best thing for the economy after the economic downturn we've been experiencing. Hell, I can't even work over the break because the restaurant business hasn't been amazing. From a Marxist point of view, let's hope to God people spend more than they can afford, and let's hope they do it for a reason, and think and question and compare the items they purchase before passively swiping it off to their accounts. Why this sweater? Why this colour? Won't they like the red one better? What does my daughter really enjoy? What makes my son happy?
Yes, we are the millennials. Yes, we are known as the "disengaged students" due to the lack of a liberal education. Yes, we are "new school," and our culture is eCulture instead of print, and we have become passive. But let's choose to not choose to participate in the continuing of that label, that passiveness. Be an active shopper this Christmas holiday. Ask yourself why. Think more than twice, if possible. All the power to you, but you will always have a choice.