I hate Black Friday for a lot of reasons: Because it so neatly encapsulates the total delusion of consumer culture; because most of the things you can get deals on are completely unnecessary; because I’m not a huge proponent of any sort of fanaticism but especially fanaticism over spending money; because it forces retail employees to work hours they should be spending with their families at the risk of being fired; because it provides such a stark contrast between mobs our culture accepts (mobs spending money) and mobs it doesn’t (protesters fighting injustice). I also hate it because the people who claim there’s a “war on Christmas” as a Christian holiday are often the same people who are proponents of Black Friday, a day that reduces Christmas to a secularized consumer holiday, because it’s good for the economy or something. I hate it because it entrenches consumer goods as status symbols. I hate it because it points out how many of us Americans are living in poverty, how desperate we are to provide our children with a normal, capitalist American lifestyle, and how easy it is for giant corporations to pull our strings. Keep reading »
Every few days, they would come home with hundreds of dollars worth of brand-name groceries and struggle to fit them into their bursting cabinets. They had two freezers and two refrigerators to hold food for three adults and one child. The food would spoil in the fridge or go stale on the shelf and just stay there for weeks. They ate out almost every night, spending $60 at a time at KFC, wrapping up the leftovers, and then never eating them.
On Christmas, the child would get fifty presents, and not tiny presents but whole playsets, Lego sets, motorized cars, animals. Birthdays were the same, and Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving were all treated as further opportunities to give the child presents. If the kid wanted something, they’d hound the parents for weeks, throwing tantrums, guilting, pleading for hours at a time, until the parents’ patience would wear thin and they’d buy it, even between the holiday milestones. Keep reading »
When I got married in 2011, we spent a cumulative $12,000 and called it a bargain. And it was a bargain – the average American wedding costs $25,200 these days. We cut corners, but we did the whole shebang: Big gown, big venue, big meal, big dessert table, photography, videography, DJ, centerpieces, customized everything, tuxes, event coordinator, rehearsal dinner, jewelry, makeup, hair, theme, colors, officiant, and of course, in the first place, a very expensive diamond engagement ring. After all that, though, there’s only a short list of things that I wound up really loving about my wedding — my dad going out of his way to make a slideshow and take dance lessons so our first dance could be awesome (it was), dancing with my friends for two straight hours, and the fact that my family came from all over the country to witness my vows. Keep reading »
I’ve already done quite a bit of serious reflecting on the life lessons I learned this year. Now it’s time to reflect on a much shallower topic: the cool stuff I bought. After selling most of my belongings in the spring, I tried to be a bit more careful with my purchases this year, although I’ll admit to more than a few impulse buys and giddy-if-not-entirely-logical purchases made for the sole purpose of decorating/filling up our new place (antique “hot pretzel” sign, I’m looking at you). Here are the 10 products I’m most excited about, in no particular order… Keep reading »
When we think of slavery, most Americans likely consider the slave history of our own country. We relegate slavery to the past, believing that such a barbaric concept couldn’t ever exist in our current world.
We were wrong.
Slavery is alive and well, and happening in more places than you think. There are 27 million slaves in the world today, involved in a variety of industries and in a multitude of countries. There’s the forced prostitution and trafficking of women around the world; the men forced to work in the copper, diamond and coltan mines in the Congo; and the trafficked migrant workers of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
But that’s just a fraction of the slave and indentured labor that happens all over the world, employed to create products and services we use every day. Keep reading »
Black Friday seems to get crazier and crazier every year, and while I’ve gotta give props to my friends who are willing to brave the angry mobs in the hopes of scoring a sweet deal, I think that gloriously bloated day after Thanksgiving has the potential to be a lot more than the frightening consumerist orgy it’s become. With that in mind, I compiled 7 other colorful Friday traditions. Find out what they are and how to celebrate them, after the jump! Keep reading »