#BlackFriday: Are We Shopping Sheep or Creative #Followers?

Last year, I wrote about the zombie followers lining up for Black Friday deals. (By the way, I was one of them!) This year, I’m on a budget and in impulse buy recovery, so I’ve decided not to shop today. (When my online “deals” came in the mail, several of them weren’t exactly what I thought they’d be, and I could only get part of my money back, because it was a #BlackFriday event. Thank you, Amazon!) Plus, I keep seeing footage of bleary eyed, crazy-grabby people risking their lives to save $200 on a bigscreen TV. It’s kind of a #follower issue — do I want to be a sheep who dies with the most things, or more creative, empowered even?

Full carts at Walmart (Lydia DePillis/Washington Post)

Full carts at Walmart (Lydia DePillis/Washington Post)

I’m not talking about making all my holiday gifts, although I’ve had those years. And believe me, I understand the value of being on a budget. I’m talking about the creative followership that resists the whole strange celebrity status of “the easy deal,” so alluring that the risks of a fight or a crowd crush or disappointment or exhaustion or ten wasted hours of life bring neither fear nor regret.

According to Mike Bogosian, professional crowd wrangler, “it’s no different than if you were to have Justin Bieber step out on the corner of he street. You can’t change peoples’ behavior.” Sales are the Black Friday glimpse of our hunger for status, measured by the big ticket items. And that hunger may be the biggest thought leader in our surreal and contradictory culture.

In essence, as I walk off my multilayered Thanksgiving feast, I’m thinking about whether I need to go an ideological diet as well as a physical one. “Getting and spending” is a messy kind of bliss — more of a treadmill than a healthy hike.

So I’m rethinking what I wrote last year: “The problem isn’t buying and owning things, or even wanting (and for most of us needing) a good price in order to justify buying the things we need and want. It’s the burden of it all — that we, the ones who are supposed to get the trickle down from the top are being told we’re the ones whose nickels and dimes trickle up to feed the companies that we need to feed and lead us!”

imagesI wonder, maybe the problem is “wanting (and for most of us needing) a good price” to buy the luxuries we couldn’t have otherwise. It’s a big question: what’s the best way consumers can make our voices heard over the desperate crashing of carts and cash registers? If it’s really us that drive the economy, then shouldn’t we step into the driver’s seat instead of being driven mad by Black Friday frenzy?

This year, I wonder — what does it mean to be a #creative-follower and a consumer? When I need a break, I’m not necessarily being a sheep, following the herd into the big box stores. But there must be a better way than this door-busting illusion of “sales,” lining up save money in order to save the economy and find the “perfect” gift.

What do you think? Can consumers be creative followers,  “leading up” on Black Friday?

One comment

  1. Linda Arigi · · Reply

    I think not. There will always be leaders who can bring about change (thank heavens), but realistically, the majority of consumers can no more be creative leader-followers than religious doctrine-re-writers or the driving force behind better foods and drugs. Why? Although there is a mass consciousness that causes us to behave like sheep, it isn’t founded on unity. This consciousness that we have as human beings is created by individual thought-forms that are not cohesive and have no sense of inter-connectedness and absolutely, no hope of getting there. It is in a way, a mass consciousness of struggle, confusion, and hopelessness. People can (sometimes) understand what the problem is with corporations, drug companies, churches etc., but they rarely believe there is anything they can do about it. Bringing into an already-overburdened life an added responsibility that offers only struggle and the isolation that comes with taking up a cause, is not something the average person with his own financial, health and relationship issues can handle. We wish and hope that someone else will fix it for us. We complain and grumble about how wrong everything is, while avidly living vicarious lives through ugly TV shows or violent sporting events or alcoholic escape, all of which make us feel better, because they prove that we are not the only ones who are unhappy and struggling and wanting to punch someone…

    People generally do need the same things, but these needs are different for each person in every moment, and so the energy and force necessary for a mass movement/protest isn’t present. Not everyone has a financial, health or spiritual crisis at the same time, and so those issues take a back seat until they rear up again, as they always do. We all agree that we should not be pawns in the consumer game…but only when it’s not working in our (perceived and momentary) favor! ‘THIS Christmas, we want to get a TV for Grandma so we NEED that sale and therefore the anti-Black-Friday hype doesn’t apply to us THIS year.’ The sales, and the drugs, and the dogma of salvation and forgiveness work because they fill perceived needs, and until that foundation changes, we the people will not be in the drivers seat. Bottom line, I think we all just do our best, and put our own immediate needs first, because no one has the time or resources to do anything else.

    In my opinion, such change can only come one person, one life at a time. When an individual comes across an idea, or a teaching, or a person, which/who creates an immediate ‘knowing’ that this information is valuable and must be paid attention to, a small step can be taken – THAT is progress. One small step in self-improvement, self-growth, leads to a stronger sense of empowerment. Not only will that small step lead to other opportunities for that individual, but it will also impact all those who come into contact with him. Change yourself, change your family and friends, change your community.


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