Although Facebook provides me with the daily opportunity to be disappointed in people I know for their various personal, political, and sometimes religious (usually the type that affects the political) choices, every now and then it makes me smile at the friends I am glad to have. Recently, I smiled because a number of these friends posted a pledge that they would not shop on Thanksgiving, a day when retailers were previously closed but have lately decided to open and provide sales in an effort to make a profit on a national holiday.
The idea behind the pledge is that people should not only choose to be with their families instead of going shopping, but also to allow the employees of retailers to be with their families instead of having to go to work so that other people can go shopping. Or, in lieu of family get-togethers, maybe everyone could volunteer at a shelter or some other organization that allows everyone to be thankful for something for a change.
Which I fully support. I also support my friend Mike’s post, in which he noted that Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrating a whitewashed story of what is actually the conquest and near genocide of a Native population (a truth we conveniently forget because turkey is so delicious, right?), and that in the larger scheme of things, perhaps shopping on that day is not the worst thing that has ever happened, and that perhaps it is a more accurate observation of the holiday to have suburban moms beat the shit out of one another for a discounted PS4.
For me, I think that people who shop on Thanksgiving are probably a little less evil than the corporations that make it so enticing to do so, and ultimately, although the history is icky, enjoying a meal with your family and/or friends is the least evil option in spirit.
Of course, I don’t go shopping on Thanksgiving. I don’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, either. It’s for a few reasons, the top being that I resent the suggestion that corporate retailers need any more money to exist and are therefore justified in turning the acquisition of Christmas presents for children into a bloodsport. I also detest crowds, spending money, and being implicit in what is a pretty disgusting ritual being performed for what has become a disingenuous reason.
Although I fully understand why some people with kids would go for the sales. Really, I do. But personally, I choose to shop at independent retailers. I choose to shop online. I choose to find craftspeople and artisans whose work I love and pay them a fair price for it. I may not be able to completely extricate myself from the cycle of consumption (because I am typing this on a Dell laptop after shopping at a Kroger-owned supermarket that I drove to on Exxon-sourced gasoline), but some consideration instead of “fuck it, everybody buys stuff so why can’t I” makes a difference.
Walmart can go fuck itself, though.
I want to say that I can understand why some people with kids go to Walmart for the low prices, but really, I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t understand why so many people would give Walmart money, or be excited to shop there, or like Walmart on Facebook. I can’t understand why they would support a corporation that famously doesn’t provide their employees with decent health benefits or pay a living wage because they claim that doing so would result in higher costs to consumers because of an infinitesimally lower profit margin (easily covered by lowering executive pay, but who cares about that in America?).
I can’t understand why anyone would choose to support a corporation that decimates areas previously able to support local, independent businesses invested in their own communities. And during this season, especially, I can’t understand why anyone would support a corporation that requires their employees to work on holidays, those same employees who aren’t being paid a living wage or being provided with benefits, so much so that the corporation concedes they are probably “associates in need” and for this reason allows a totally employee-sponsored food drive for them.
Let me get this straight, Walmart: you don’t pay people what they need to feed their families, yet you expect their co-workers (who presumably aren’t getting paid enough, either) to provide them with food donations during the holidays they can’t even spend at home anyway because they have to work? For a pittance? So you can post even higher profits?
Are you fucking kidding me? And some of you pay to shop there? And you want people on Facebook to know that you like it? Happy holidays, I guess. Enjoy your bloodsport. You deserve it.