Friday, November 23, 2007


Being poor means always watching where your money is going, and keeping a stranglehold on all those dollars spent on frivolous things. Americans are taught by advertising and the lifestyles portrayed as normal in media that shopping is an essential pursuit. Buying things, owning things, having a life full of objects, is fundamental to life. Everyone is supposed to be upper middle class, which means owning an extravagantly large house in a suburban neighborhood, and filling it with things you don't need, just because that's the default in our culture, even if you can't afford the things you buy, and even if they don't make you happy.

This kind of consumerism was on ample display today, Black Friday, the biggest collective orgy of spending all year. All the stores have sales, so of course everyone has to run out and see how much they can spend so they can show off their wealth to their family and friends. On the way home from my mother-in-law's house on Thursday evening, we passed by a line of about 40 people camped outside a Best Buy. It was only about 6:30pm, but they were camped out there in the 35 degree darkness, ready to wait all night until the store opened at 6am, so they could get in first and get the special sale on whatever.

Combine this disgusting wealth obsession with the celebration of genocide we call Thanksgiving, and this weekend has made me rather squeamish.

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