I know I'll come across as a grumpy old woman but for a long time I've hated the influx of American culture on this side of the pond. Last month I had a rant about Halloween; about how it seems to have supplanted Bonfire Night as the autumn celebration of choice; about how it all seems to be about getting more stuff out of people. So we can park that rant here, can we?
Today is Black Friday, a day when some people seem to go potting for 'bargains' real or imagined. Last year saw less than edifying scenes of people fighting in stores to get their hands on things. Again it seemed that we'd imported an idea from America and it bought the worst out in some people. On an average Friday people aren't fighting in the aisles of Asda but because it's Black Friday ... well seemingly anything goes.
Black Friday started in America in the early 2000s, a day when Americans began shopping for Christmas and there were promotional discounts on some goods. Stores opened early and people, still in a holiday and celebratory mood after Thanksgiving, started to buy Christmas gifts. Thanksgiving is a holiday in America and the shops are shut so the following Friday became the first day of the Christmas season for shopping.
For some reason when Black Friday arrived in the UK, thanks to Amazon and Asda (now part of American retail giant Wallmart) the British public went a bit dotty. And if there's one thing that the British public is good at it's overreacting. Hence the fights over TVs, coffee makers and microwaves.
Buy Nothing Day is a global reaction to the rampant consumerism of Black Friday. People across the world pledge to buy nothing on Black Friday, to spend a whole day refraining from joining in the madness of buying things they probably don't really want or need just because it's been 'discounted' or because it's what everyone else is doing.
This year I've decided to join them. I'm not buying anything today, I'm not spending a single penny on anything. Now I know that my tiny, sporadic spending won't make any difference to the global madness but it's important to me to do this. It's a small protest against consumerism, against Black Friday and against the Americanisation of the whole world.
Happy Buy Nothing Day!