Friday Recommends

Friday Recommends: Buying Nothing Today



It’s Black Friday. What if you didn’t buy anything today? What if you didn’t hop in your car to spend hours in long lines and traffic gridlock? What if you told those hucksters on Madison Avenue that you’re not an unthinking zombie of crass consumerism whose tastes and interests can be pinpointed and exploited like Pavlov’s dogs?

There’s another way. It’s called Buy Nothing Day, and it’s an international movement to do something subversive and countercultural today. It was started in 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” Here’s the Adbusters page for it.

So rise up, you anti-consumerist warriors, and — what? Hold on a second.

[Commercial for Best Buy comes on TV.]

Are they for real? A Samsung 52″ 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV with Geek Squad Install and Free Shipping for just $1499.99? Wow. That’s … that’s quite a deal. Hmmmm.

We are going to be TV-less next February if we don’t upgrade to something without bunny ears. Maybe we don’t need a flat-panel Samsung. And 52″ might be a little much. But what about something in the 30″ to 40″ range? I mean, wouldn’t it be the practical thing to do? It’s like we’d be losing money if we didn’t take the best deal possible, right?

Um, where were we?

Oh right. Buy nothing today. Hey, did you know that Adbusters has tried to buy airtime to promote Buy Nothing Day but was turned down by all the major networks? Think about it. It’s a radical message that would upend our entire economy — no, our entire worldview! So let’s join hands and–

Wait, there’s another Best Buy commercial on.

[Best Buy commercial plays. Drool forms at the corners of our gaping mouths.]

Seriously? GNR’s Chinese Democracy for just $11.99? But why would Best Buy limit us to just 30 copies? That’s un-American! We should be allowed to buy three hundred if we want! That’s too good a deal to pass up!

Wait, wait. We’re more than our base consumer desires! Let’s call up our radical friends and go to Wal-Mart and form a long, inexplicable conga line of silent protest as we walk around the store with empty shopping carts. Yes! That’s what we need to do! Let’s call everyone right–

Oh no.

[Another Best Buy commerical. Instantaneous drooling. Eyes glaze over. Catatonic state.]

You’ve got to be joking. An Insignia 7.0-megapixel digital camera for $59.99? That’s less than ten dollars per megapixel. Holy crap, GET IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW.


If someone else gets the last camera before us, I swear we will put him in a world of hurt.

And look at the promotions in this Best Buy flyer! We could get a Toshiba Satellite Laptop with AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology for just $379.99!!! That’s $270 in instant savings!!! Exclamation points were invented for such a time as this!!!!!


BUY! BUY! BUY! BUY! BUY! GET OUT OF OUR WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




UPDATE: Of course, this is no laughing matter. The most chilling line: “When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling ‘I’ve been in line since yesterday morning,'” she said. “They kept shopping.”

UPDATE #2: A wider-angle lens on yesterday’s tragedy from the Times: “It was a tragedy, yet it did not feel like an accident.”


9 thoughts on “Friday Recommends: Buying Nothing Today

  1. David woke me up when he crawled into our bed this morning at 5:30, so I figured that was a Sign from Stephen Colbert that I needed to take advantage of Wal-Mart’s sale on a 32″ HDTV (only $389!). By the time I got there (roughly 5:40), they were all gone. So I drove home and went back to sleep.

    Then I read this post and was glad I didn’t pull the trigger on a similar deal from Microcenter ($399 after manufacturer’s rebate on a 1080 dp 32″ HDTV.)

    I have to confess, though, I DID make a couple of purchases today. Perhaps it will mitigate your righteous fury when I tell you that the money supported of local businesses. Maybe just a little? We took David bowling at Mission Bowl (BPAA member and Bowling Center Management subscriber!), and I just spent $36.90 on a 7′ Balsam fir Christmas tree, at a little stand run by Boy Scout Troop 90. The kid who helped me pick it out was a 6th grader. He said he wanted Legos for Christmas. Awww!

  2. No righteous fury here, Mr. Guldin. You have done nothing but bring sunshine and joy into the world today. Sleep well tonight. You’ve earned it.

  3. I flicked a nickel at a homeless guy on my way into Barney’s to get a purple cashmere scarf if that counts for anything.

    Vore, the XBox 360 is only $199 nowadays. If you get one, how cool would it be if we play online with my Warriors against your Jazz? Oh – I need to go change my shorts . . .

  4. Liz — You too have brought sunshine and joy into the world.

    Denys — You look great in a purple cashmere scarf, so everything is cool.

  5. GNR’s “American” Democracy? A slip of the lip, some Turkey-tryptophan inspired interference from the brain to the keyboard?
    Or a subtle dig at our way of life; the American political system for sale for $11.99 per person?
    All I want is my free Dr Pepper.

  6. You did not address the critical issue of the XBox 360 to which I can only assume Big Brother Erin are monitoring these airwaves. Seriously, I play online poker with Jesse sometimes when I am sitting next to him at his house. It’s the funnest thing ever.

  7. Mark — Neither a slip of the lip nor a veiled political statement; rather, shoddy copy editing work (now corrected) by a certain feline. We are withholding his food for 24 hours. In human time, this is comparable to a fast of 40 days and 40 nights.

    Denys — Erin did impose “Ring of Death” censorship re: any public comment on an XBox 360. Therefore the rest of this comment will be in code:

    For the life of me I cannot remember / What made us think we were wise and / We’d never compromise / I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

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