Today is the official start of the Christmas shopping season. Timed to coincide with American thanksgiving, it is the beginning of the glut that is western consumer culture’s moment in the spotlight (aside from, of course, any other day). It’s also something else: a rejection of and protest against all that consumerism is and represents known as Buy Nothing Day (BND).
Founded in 1992 by Adbusters Magazine, BND has spread around the world and is celebrated annually by all types of activists, artists and people sick of feeling they have to buy things. The concept is simple: don’t buy anything for 24 hours. Some expand on it with theatrical jams directed at the heart of consumerism like one group is doing in Montreal today while others take it as a call to action year round to buy locally and only things they need.
No matter how people celebrate it, BND is something that has entered into our collective psyche and has done so through viral grassroots initiative. It hasn’t permeated our mindset the way that Black Friday has, though. Understandable if you consider the fact that the day of shopping has done so through top-down mass marketing campaigns and a helluva lot of cash. Not even a death during a rush of shoppers could stem the tide of buying.
Compring and contrasting Black Friday and BND isn’t a coke versus Pepsi argument as such a blunt opposition may imply. BND isn’t a competitor but rather a challenge and an alternative to brands altogether. If anything, it’s a Coke versus drinking something because you need it and knows where it came from and bought it previously with the rest of your groceries.
Today people will shop, just like any other day. But others will take a break and think. The real question to ask yourself is, do you want to do what’s expected of you in a capitalist society or do you want to try something different? The ball is in your court.