Buy Nothing Day 2001

November 22, 2001 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Buy Nothing Day 2001
"This November 23 is international Buy Nothing Day, an activist holiday at odds with the wartime equation of consumerism equals patriotism."

On the historically busiest shopping day of the year in America, here's a bit of individual protest one can engage in (or not) that has an even greater resonance this time around.
posted by mapalm (69 comments total)

 
Last Buy Nothing Day all I bought was a sandwich, for lunch. Mind you, since we don't have Thanksgiving here in Australia, the 23rd is nothing special (mindless consumption-wise).
posted by krisjohn at 10:37 PM on November 22, 2001


At least this year it isn't on my birthday.
posted by pixelgeek at 10:37 PM on November 22, 2001


You might want to check this older thread.
Or, if you don't agree with the aformentioned day-of-morality, try steal something day. Seems like it could be a lot more fun.
posted by jheiz at 10:42 PM on November 22, 2001


Please don't miss the informed, literate discussion:

If you didn't buy, if every single one of us didn't buy and our economy all of a sudden crashed and people envaded our boarders like the news makes it sound like, then whatever you beleive in you better be ready to fight for with you life.
posted by signal at 11:05 PM on November 22, 2001


I'll be on the lookout for any envasion of my boarders.
posted by solistrato at 11:08 PM on November 22, 2001


Crap, envasion.net and envasion.com are already taken.

Question: Am I still a good socialist if I rent something at the video store on Buy-Nothing Day?
posted by bobo123 at 11:17 PM on November 22, 2001


I won't buy anything tomorrow. No big deal, I don't buy anything most days -- I hate shopping and I'm a miser. I also practice "Eat Nothing Day" on Thanksgiving itself. To me, the latter is a much more powerful statement. I mean, who's going to notice that you haven't bought anything for one day?
posted by mlinksva at 11:24 PM on November 22, 2001


Capitalism (debt backed system) is NOT Free Enterprise. It's Central Planing by the international banking cartel via the Money Flows instead of the Goods/Services Flows. It's all Communism. If you fight for Capitalism, you fight for Communisim via High Finance. Fight for Free Enterprise! Debt is Financial Slavery. If you borrow to buy, you are a slave to the banker. Paying Interest is Indentured Servitude. This is not freedom. This is not what the Founding Fathers of the US gave their lives for. When you covet your neighbors property, Don't say "Must Be Nice" say "Have Fun Making Payments!"
Patrick Henry, Cleveland


Among other things, I teach economics. Never have I read anything before that speaks so eloquently the need for a basic understanding of economics. *sniff* the world needs me so...
posted by dness2 at 11:40 PM on November 22, 2001


Bah. I like stuff. I won't apologize for it.
posted by Su at 11:43 PM on November 22, 2001


Well Dness2, surely it can't be both ways. Either consumers can affect the planet by buying or not buying things en masse, or the world's financial system is outside our control.
posted by skylar at 12:11 AM on November 23, 2001


Has anyone read Kalle Lasn's "Culture Jam?"

I would like to think I'm aligned with the man, but what a preachy read.
posted by scarabic at 12:13 AM on November 23, 2001


I want nothing but food (no meat), books, cheap sedation, and bus tickets. My trousers are starting to fray and I'm looking for a seamstress (or seamster). Yesterday, though, we bought a lovely used piano that should last us 30 or 40 years. Maybe I'll go before it does. That's the sort of spending I like.
posted by pracowity at 12:13 AM on November 23, 2001


Yeah. I like stuff too. And I am not sorry for it. I'm going to buy some stuff tomorrow.
posted by tomorama at 12:17 AM on November 23, 2001


skylar--
The financial system IS buying and selling. Consumers can have an effect by buying or not buying en masse, but individually it is out of our control. So it is both ways, depending on whether you look at it from a micro or macro view.
But how did you get that thought from the quote I gave above?
posted by dness2 at 12:31 AM on November 23, 2001


I can't figure out just what it is that the organizers of this actually expect to accomplish. Do they really think that they're going to stop the war by marching around wearing T-shirts that say "Peace works"?

Folks, they need to make a more convincing case than that. All this is going to do is to convince people that the T-shirted ones are deluded.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:37 AM on November 23, 2001


Out of mild curiosity, is there any cerebration behind pronouncements like "I like stuff, and I'm not sorry about it", or is it like, you know, just asserting the simple joy of an irrepressible bodily function...?
posted by Opus Dark at 12:38 AM on November 23, 2001


... any different from being an oh so cool rebel, sticking it to the man.
posted by tomorama at 12:42 AM on November 23, 2001


Dness2 - to explain - you appeared to be somehow disagreeing with the quote that you had italicized.

I think the (admirable but somewhat futile) concept behind these campaigns is to get a large body of people together in protest. I suppose the last time we saw that in the UK was the campaign against GM food, which has been successful in destroying the market for openly GM food. Sadly it doesn't prevent governments from letting GM in through the back door, or companies from using GM in ingredients which contribute to other food products.

The public doesn't want GM, but it's here anyway. The power of corporations, in some respects, is therefore larger than any en masse protest.

But the use of sanctions, both individual and governmental, did work to end apartheid in South Africa, didn't it.
posted by skylar at 12:46 AM on November 23, 2001


Please speak for yourself, skylar. I'm "public" too, and I want GM -- as long as it gives me better and cheaper food.

As for Buy Nothing Day, anti-consumerists will only be taken seriously if they stop buying/trading things -- for life. Somehow I doubt that will happen...
posted by frednorman at 1:47 AM on November 23, 2001


skylar: I think the (admirable but somewhat futile) concept behind these campaigns...

Can you explain why this campaign is "admirable?"

Opus Dark: There certainly is "cerebration" behind pronouncements such as "I like stuff, and I'm not sorry about it." The word "stuff" means anything that a person has to purchase (or otherwise trade for); food, shelter, music, clothing, toys. Saying "I'm not sorry for it" is simply a very direct way to communicate the fact that, in the face of such rampant anti-consumerism blathering, you are proud to be able to (a) earn money, (b) freely spend your money any way you choose, and (c) enjoy the benefits of your purchase/s, guilt-free.

For heaven's sake, why do so many whiny, mopey people feel that purchasing something that they LIKE is something to be ashamed of, or that to deny themselves is somehow admirable, or to view being a consumer as some sort of a necessary evil of living in modern society? I love to buy things! No apologies, no hand-wringing, no guilt. What could possibly be wrong with buying something that I want or need?
posted by davidmsc at 2:19 AM on November 23, 2001


But Dave! By willingly trading your money for some stuff you really want, you're being exploited by The Man!
posted by frednorman at 2:25 AM on November 23, 2001


Reminds me of the "movemento lower gas prices by not buying any on a certain day. Wait, instead, for the following days to fill up--if you still had gas in your tank--as though that were going to force prices down.
I know almost nothing about economics, but if you don;t buy today, and you buy lots of things the following week, what is the point that gets made? "Retail sales down for this week but pick up dramatically after"
posted by Postroad at 2:29 AM on November 23, 2001


Has anyone read Kalle Lasn's "Culture Jam?"
I would like to think I'm aligned with the man, but what a preachy read.

scarabic: I read the book, too -- and it is interesting, but I agree that the man can be preachy. his style is a little too 1970's. the true paradox is that he's, at heart, what he hates the most: he's an advertising genius. he creates fantastic ads and logos -- all of them are against consumerism, OK -- but they're ads anyway. his American flag (corporate logos instead of stars) is the perfect example. they're anti-advertising ads
posted by matteo at 2:46 AM on November 23, 2001


Exploit away, baby! That's right -- I'm nothing but a Tool and proud of it!

Seriously.
posted by davidmsc at 2:55 AM on November 23, 2001


Frednorman, you may be 'the man on the street' but you're not "The Public". Out of all protests of recent times (and I'm speaking from a UK perspective here), the ONLY one which has stuck has been the anti-genetically-modified-foods movement. Given a choice between two identical products, one of which is GM, most people will choose the non-GM product. Restaurants all over the country are marking their foods as non-GM. Some stores, faced with the negative public opinion, announced that they would not sell any GM food products.

Personally I think you would be well advised to read deep into the history of genetically modified organics before jumping to its defence. There are many, many ways to improve plants which don't need expensive lab-based genetic modifications: we've been doing it for centuries. One of the main problems with GM is that it's an attempt to patent our food chain. Patents are not well-known for making things cheaper.
posted by skylar at 3:01 AM on November 23, 2001


Patents are not well-known for making things cheaper.

They are, on the other hand, known for encouraging the making of things -- full stop.

Given a choice between two identical products, one of which is GM, most people will choose the non-GM product.

This is context-dropping. The whole point of GM is to make products that *aren't* identical with non-GM foods, e.g. to make them cheaper, bigger, better, more easily stored, longer-lasting etc.
posted by frednorman at 3:17 AM on November 23, 2001


davidmsc:

So, if there were to exist a widget machine, which could transmogrify free sand into anything you want, would your toy joys be diminished by the fact that you did nothing to earn them, or would you still find them as delightful as if you had 'worked' for them?

Suppose, instead of sand, the widget machine's raw material was fertile earth, or rainforest, or simply water, all of which could still be super-cheaply imported from 'foreign places'. Would the clear and immediate consumption of non-replenishing resource diminish your toy joy? (This, of course, presumes the widget machine is, for editorial reasons, incapable of natural resource replenishing ;))

Suppose each widget machine required a natural blue diamond of minimum karat, thus insuring that only a limited number, just enough for Americans and selected Europeans, could ever exist? Only we could ever wish upon a widget - everybody else would have to scrape along as they always have. Your shiny 'stuff' thus becomes clearly an accident of birth. Still obliviously thrilled with all of the toys?

But beyond all of that, the widget machine's existence would destroy the lifestyle marketing apparatus which has been irradiating each of us since birth. No one would be telling us what's cool, what's valuable, what's indispensable. Everyone who's anyone would have everything, and worldly goods would no longer be a meaningful measure of worldly success. Without external compass, what kinds of toys would you still find entertaining?

Suppose, instead of raw material, the widget machine merely required that you sit in a sensory deprivation chamber, doing something witless, for X number of hours - essentially, you would be clearly and obviously trading chunks of your life for the joy of the toy - how much would you be willing to trade, and for what?

Silly, simplistic, rambling, childish - of course. But more useful, possibly, than merely assuming an atavistic acquisition imperative, and presuming that because such an imperative exists, its intemperate gratification is justified.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:02 AM on November 23, 2001


Exploit away, baby! That's right -- I'm nothing but a Tool and proud of it!

davidmsc said that he's a Tool...
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 4:08 AM on November 23, 2001


What could possibly be wrong with buying something that I want or need?

If you're already saturated with debt, have little equity, possess few liquid assets for an unexpected bout of unemployment, have a minimal nest egg (if any) for potential retirement plans or little Janey's college education... but you still feel like buying an endless stream of goods and services for personal pleasures of the moment? You can make a case against it. Sure, it's your money and your life - but I'd still try to talk you out of your free-spending ways.

Hey, I don't dislike stuff myself. But as with so many other things in life, "all things in moderation" should probably apply to stuff as well.
posted by youhas at 4:09 AM on November 23, 2001


George W. Bush: "Now, the American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don't - where we don't conduct business, where people don't shop. That's their intention. Their intention was not only to kill and maim and destroy. Their intention was to frighten to the point where our nation would not act."
posted by Carol Anne at 5:26 AM on November 23, 2001


just for reference's sake, the day after thanksgiving is not the busiest shopping day of the year. last year it was only the fifth busiest day of shopping.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 5:39 AM on November 23, 2001


Frednorman, re: GM (admittedly this is somewhat off the main point, perhaps we should take this elsewhere? You said: The whole point of GM is to make products that *aren't* identical with non-GM foods, e.g. to make them cheaper, bigger, better, more easily stored, longer-lasting etc.

And this is useful to consumers how? In my opinion, this kind of 'advantage' is only useful to supermarkets. I can go and buy vegetables any time I like from my local store. I can go to the farmer's market. As it happens, they're cheaper this way than at the supermarket: has anyone ever noticed that? But the supermarket likes to source its food from only a few central locations, hence the need to make them last and store better. Ironically the supermarkets have also started to make a meal of the distinction between organic and non-organic food so that organic food is charged at a hefty premium. It shouldn't be this way: we shouldn't have to pay extra to have natural food at the supermarket.

I think the benefit of GM to GM organics companies is that they can at last patent and then license their products. No more seed pirates buying the plants once and then using the seeds to plant more! GM isn't cheaper, it isn't designed to make life easier for customers, just for the GM companies, and aside from the stockmarket possibilities you haven't swayed me as to how they can improve my existence.
posted by skylar at 6:32 AM on November 23, 2001


But the use of sanctions, both individual and governmental, did work to end apartheid in South Africa, didn't it.

I'm afraid not. The economic sanctions against South Africa were in effect for something like 20 years and there's no sign that they worked at all. When change did come, it came for other reasons. It had nothing to do with getting the sanctions lifted.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:33 AM on November 23, 2001


But more useful, possibly, than merely assuming an atavistic acquisition imperative, and presuming that because such an imperative exists, its intemperate gratification is justified.

Interesting arguments, Opus Dark. But I don't think that the fact that there are some problems with the current system for producing and distributing "stuff" in any way makes the case that stuff is inherently bad or to be avoided. Stuff, in a human context, is an extension of mind. What we use and have access to changes the way that we think. This has been true since humans first became tool-users. How different would you be if you'd never had access to a computer? to books? to the wide variety of music available on CDs? to a VCR which let you view hundreds, rather than dozens, of films? Tools, gadgets, machines, packaged knowledge, baubles, trinkets, etc.--everything alters who you are and how you interact with the world. Now you may argue that some of these specific changes are not advantageous or are objectionable in some fashion, but overall they represent growth and a development in sophistication, which is, to my way of thinking anyway, a good thing for the species and for us as individuals.

It is indeed unfortunate that at the current stage of world economic development, not all have equal access to "stuff." But the solution is not to deprive oneself of stuff in some misguided attempt to appease one's sense of guilt; the solution is to work to find creative ways to extend production, reduce or eliminate the negative side effects of production (pollution, wanton elimination of natural resources, wage slavery, etc.), and ensure that all people have equal access to the wonderful cornucopia of experience-enhancing and life-affirming STUFF. The fact that this cannot be done all at once, in an instant, in no way decreases its legitimacy as a goal.
posted by rushmc at 7:37 AM on November 23, 2001


I can't think of a worse day for Buy Nothing Day than the day after Thanksgiving, at least in the U.S. It's not the biggest shopping day of the year for nothing.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:52 AM on November 23, 2001


There are repercussions to rampant consumerism. Today is about restraint. It's Buy Nothing Day. Even if you can't resist filling up your gas tank or buying that morning caffeine boost, you could take a minute to think about the repercussions of rampant consumerism.

Public officials have encouraged Americans to shop to boost our economy. But how affordable is a shopping spree when most of us are in debt and pitifully unprepared for encroaching retirement? How sustainable is mass consumption in a world where resources are limited but population growth doesn't seem to be? Who's behind the labels we so blithely affiliate ourselves with, and what are the repurcussions of supporting these corporations? Did you know that eco-friendly Tom's of Maine is owned by Proctor & Gamble? That the publisher Simon & Schuster is owned by Viacom (parent company of Paramount, UPN, MTV, CBS, Showtime, Blockbuster, VH1, TNN, Nichelodeon, CMT, etc)? Perhaps these uber-corporations are unavoidable for people
who want to lead normal lives, but by taking the day off from shopping, we can take a symbolic stand and clear some time to think about what really matters and what our actions really imply.

It's not Buy Nothing Year, or You Don't Deserve Stuff Day, or I'm Never Going to Spend Money Again Day, it's Buy Nothing Day. If you don't have problems with corporate power, or you don't care all that much, then don't participate. It's as easy as that.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2001


...take a minute to think about the repercussions of rampant consumerism.

No kidding! Pottery Barn can't deliver my new 9' x 12' super-heavy Flokati wool rug 'til December 5th. The fine ladies I bring home sure ain't gonna writhe in front of the fireplace on hardwoods! Heavy sigh.
posted by KLAX at 9:48 AM on November 23, 2001


The point of BND is, for me, a subtle form of protest against what is arguably a rampant consumer culture in America. Of course people need to consume certain items to survive, and even some for enjoyment, but when consumming becomes the purpose of living, there is something morally corrupt about that, even decadent. The ubiquity of advertisements imploring us to do this, wear that, become her/him is a testament to this reality.

The trick, of course, for me at least, is to live one's life every day in a way that challenges this culture. But BND is a way of saying "No" to this on the very day that is fast becoming a holiday of consumption in itself in America.
posted by mapalm at 10:56 AM on November 23, 2001


I resent the commercialisation of "the holidays". Christmas has become hopelessly entangled with the idea of buying presents for people. The Christmas experience is dominated by the procuration, presentation, and eventual return or exchange of these gift items, and the decoration of one's house with an assortment of kitschy Christmas-themed articles. I don't find anything particularly fulfilling in this exercise. If Buy Nothing Day implies a call for a month of December that's more than a mad shopping spree, then I'm all for it. I would like a real holiday to celebrate, please.

I will probably not buy anything today - shopping in the company of thousands of other people trying to take advantage of today's markdowns sounds stifling and unpleasant. I can't think of any objects I particularly want to own, anyway.

I can't think of a worse day for Buy Nothing Day than the day after Thanksgiving, at least in the U.S. It's not the biggest shopping day of the year for nothing.

Either your level of irony has sailed right over my head, or you've completely missed the point. That today has the reputation of being the biggest shopping day of the year is the entire point - it's the one day where not shopping can be made to have any political point.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:05 AM on November 23, 2001


I don't think of Buy Nothing Day as a day to be ashamed of anything, and to a lesser degree I don't see it totally as a day of protest. for me, it's a day to educate one's self on the negative impacts of our (america's) get-lots-of-stuff mentality. you don't have to be an economist as so many have arrogantly suggested to recognize that.

personally, I don't think not buying things is the answer, but rather buying smarter. for example, not buying cigarettes or SUVS (unless you actually plan on transporting something other than yourself and maybe a passenger or two), or from companies that test on animals or exploit labor. but if you research all these things and adjust your spending habits, as opposed to just shopping, then you will have made a difference.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:11 AM on November 23, 2001


Regarding the lure of "stuff", Jonathan Franzen's book, The Corrections has a scene which might put this into context. A senile character has fallen overboard a ship. All that stands between him and eternal nothingness is a bright orange life-ring. He clings to it, refusing to let go. In his senility, it occurs to him that in a total vacuum, an object is all powerful. The orange life-ring "would be a god" in the hereafter. Powerful stuff indeed.


Regarding Buy Nothing Day, I thinks it's just one more ineffectual, hypocritical "protest" which does nothing more than spend the credibility of those who have constructive criticisms of global capitalism. One the one hand, we have the anti-globalists ascribing all problems to poverty. On the other hand, we should dash our own economy, which results in our own poverty. Hard to take these guys seriously.
posted by prodigal at 11:45 AM on November 23, 2001


I resent the commercialisation of "the holidays". Christmas has become hopelessly entangled with the idea of buying presents for people.

This is only a problem if you let it. You control your own destiny, no matter how powerful the tee-vee is, it cannot control your mind.
posted by owillis at 12:26 PM on November 23, 2001


damnit, pottery barn isn't that bad.
posted by lotsofno at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2001


Some resent the commercialization of the holidays. I resent the holidays period. Every day of my life is full of wondrous discovery. Socially dictated "special" days are a boring distraction from my exciting "routine". The only authentically special days are for me spontaneous and could never be planned.
posted by mlinksva at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2001


Aiya! Too late!


CNN: Holiday Retail Rush is On

Accompanying photo from CNN front page:


posted by sylloge at 1:36 PM on November 23, 2001


I don't believe in "buy nothing day". I believe in "buy thoughtfullY day" but it has to happen every day of the year.

the thing that bugged me about "culture jam" is that it didn't acknowledge people like me who, through a combination of poverty and values have spent our entire lives a step removed from hyperconsumerism. it's like talking to some recovering alcoholics or ex-smokers; you get credit with them for *quitting* but no cred at all for never being addicted....
posted by rebeccablood at 2:13 PM on November 23, 2001


It's not the biggest shopping day of the year for nothing.

Right. And it's not Buy Nothing Day today for nothing. For me the holiday is a pretty personal one about just paying attention to my own consumer habits and seeing which things I can do without, when confronted with a reason to reflect upon it.

Also, for me, money I don't need to spend on extraneous crap is money I can spend on sustenance. The less money I need to support myself, the less I have to work to earn that money. The less I have to work, the more free time I have to make art, make friends, travel, and generally make more personal choices that enrich my life and hopefully the lives of those around me. My time is more my own, my life is more my own. I've had jobs I've liked, I'd like to have another one, but realistically if I didn't need one I wouldn't seek one out.

If you love your job, great. If you love your stuff, great. If you lost your job -- as many of my friends have lately -- would you reconsider some of the stuff you got when you thought you'd be gainfully employed forever? Living low on the food chain actually can help you weather a tough economy. If the terrorists have "won" because I'm not shopping, let them win, that's crazy talk.
posted by jessamyn at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2001


This is only a problem if you let it. You control your own destiny, no matter how powerful the tee-vee is, it cannot control your mind.

Sure it can. Hence, "advertising," or at least the strain of it that is devoted to the creation of useless desires. Creating need where there was no need before. It is not an explicit, megaphone-and-cattle-prod sort of control, but an effective one nonetheless.

I suppose I'm a prematurely embittered adman.
posted by D at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2001


I resent the holidays period. Every day of my life is full of wondrous discovery. Socially dictated "special" days are a boring distraction from my exciting "routine".

Let me guess: There's nary a television to be found in your domicile, and you'd sooner drink a cup of steaming spit than a Starbucks beverage?
posted by KLAX at 2:46 PM on November 23, 2001


i have not bought a single thing today.

but then again, i hate crowds.

:D
posted by jcterminal at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2001


I dont like the consumerism of the Holiday season, it takes away from the original meaning which for secular nonreligious people should be more about shopping and getting presents. I make all my Christmas gifts--art ones. I dont know if I will totally buy nothing today--we are out of groceries and need to do laundry desperately---but I follow rules for my shopping based on my values to always use independent small businesses first if possible and follow a frugal--partially by necessity- lifestyle. When we have money in our household we are more apt to spend it on experiences, classes, travel and socializing with people--
Most things in my house are bought in the second hand market.
posted by Budge at 3:05 PM on November 23, 2001


Let me guess: There's nary a television to be found in your domicile...

what's wrong with not watching TV?
posted by signal at 3:06 PM on November 23, 2001


The commercialization of the holidays is one of the only aspects of December that I enjoy. You're not surprised, are you...?

And re: consumerism, GM, etc -- we agree to disagree. I understand your position and think that you are wrong, but appreciate the exchange of ideas in this forum. There really is a lot to be said for civility.

Happy Holidays.
posted by davidmsc at 3:28 PM on November 23, 2001


rebeccablood--

amen!
posted by mcsweetie at 3:29 PM on November 23, 2001


KLAX: My SO has a TV. I'd love to destroy it. I'd rather drink a Starbucks beverage than a cup of steaming spit, but I can choose to drink neither, and that's what I do. I've never been inside a Starbucks, despite there being dozens in the little town I live in. I don't know why you wanted to know this, but whatever...
posted by mlinksva at 4:36 PM on November 23, 2001


I suppose I'm a prematurely embittered adman.

or one who thinks he has a larger effect on people then he does.
posted by Mick at 6:24 PM on November 23, 2001


The commercialization of the holidays is one of the only aspects of December that I enjoy.

Do you really mean that? I can hardly even understand what you're saying. The commercialization itself is what you enjoy? In the abstract, distinct from all the other things (that you don't enjoy)?
posted by rodii at 7:31 PM on November 23, 2001


Sure it can. Hence, "advertising," or at least the strain of it that is devoted to the creation of useless desires.

Anybody who can have their mind controlled by tv deserves it. I'm sorry but, anyone with a decent mental capacity is able to not be affected one whit by advertising.

An ad can inform you of a new product, but "mez-mo-ize"? Nah.
posted by owillis at 12:46 AM on November 24, 2001


I'm sorry but, anyone with a decent mental capacity is able to not be affected one whit by advertising.

EVERYONE exposed to advertising is "affected" by it. It utilizes very sophisticated techniques of influence and control, and takes advantage of how the human brain works. Just because you don't find yourself rushing out to buy every product you see pushed doesn't mean you're not being affected.

A is for Apple, J is for _____.
Follow your nose; it always _______.
Where's the ________?

If you can fill in the blanks, you've been affected.
posted by rushmc at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2001


A is for Apple, J is for _____.
Follow your nose; it always _______.
Where's the ________?


Now I feel left out. The only one of those I got is the last one.
posted by rodii at 10:15 AM on November 24, 2001


What could possibly be wrong with buying something that I want or need?

That possibly, you're helping to support child labor, dangerous regimes (Myanmar via Pepsi, Taliban via petrol, etc), environmental damage, increasingly invasive advertising... your dollar goes somewhere, and chances are you don't know where. That your individual contribution is small relative to the whole doesn't free you from resonsibility.
posted by skyline at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2001


Public officials have encouraged Americans to shop to boost our economy. But how affordable is a shopping spree when most of us are in debt and pitifully unprepared for encroaching retirement?

The quote above I just selected to illustrate what seems to be one of the major ideas behind this "buy nothing day".
If consumer debt is such a problem, surely a " give a child a piggybank" day, or "make a budget/visit a financial advisor" day would be far more useful?

Oh, wait, that would be pro-active, and wouldn't get so much of Mummy & Daddy The Man's attention as protesting.
Protesting is really cool effective when me and my friends all get to wear the same T-shirts.
posted by Catch at 6:32 PM on November 24, 2001


Anybody who can have their mind controlled by tv deserves it. I'm sorry but, anyone with a decent mental capacity is able to not be affected one whit by advertising.

I'm sorry, I wish this were true. Most of us are simply outclassed by advertising. Huge amounts of money and manpower are thrown at things we just don't think about. The ad industry spends millions trying to figure out how to influence snap decisions in supermarkets. Many ads are designed to be annoying. On the average visit to McDonald's one is exposed to their logo at least 70 times. McDonald's ads, and others, are designed to evoke fake nostalgia: the marketing equivalent of false memory syndrome. It's a lot of complicated, sneaky stuff. Ad people may be the only ones who believe in Freud anymore.

As I tried to express before, it's not a matter of being mesmerized or mind-controlled. To put it a better way: have you ever bought a Coke or a Pepsi? Do you think your decision was not, in some way, affected by advertising?

And it's not an issue of smart or stupid, either. There are techniques for "smart" people, too.

Or are you being polemical, owillis? You have a page devoted to human brands on your site, so I can't help but think you are somewhat aware of these issues.
posted by D at 9:25 PM on November 24, 2001


Here's what I believe: certainly advertising can influence your decision making process but it cannot control your mind. I've read a lot of things on brands influencing people, etc. but ultimately the market and consumer decide. My perception, anyhow.
posted by owillis at 2:28 AM on November 25, 2001


No-one's going to see a Pringles ad on TV, run out of the house and to the store, screaming "I must pop some Pringles!" But if you're in the store and you see the tube of Pringles sitting there next to the tube of Slav-imported Chipsletten, which ones are you going to buy? Which company would you trust the most? If advertising didn't work to some degree, it wouldn't be such an expensive and powerful industry.
posted by skylar at 4:41 AM on November 25, 2001


Hmm...where do I find these "Chipsletten?"
posted by rushmc at 9:31 AM on November 25, 2001


Hmm...where do I find these "Chipsletten?"

Bahlsen Snack Hits: A assorted mix of the best snacks Bahlsen has to offer. 6 Varieties of the all time favorites. Salzletten, Chipsletten, Clubs, Erdnusslocken, Nic Nacs, Pomsticks. In a serving tray package. Price $6.75
posted by Carol Anne at 10:18 AM on November 25, 2001


Holiday Shoppers Trample Woman One more reason to stay home on the day after Thanksgiving!
posted by Carol Anne at 11:50 AM on November 25, 2001


owillis -

Here's two articles about how advertising can create false memories. They're both about the same study, but the first one has some extra information.

An example of false memories created by advertising - two of my friends recently bought Volkeswagons. Their previous cars, which had cost them thousands of dollars in repairs, were also VW's. They bought them without really considering other cars, and when I asked why they bought them they both replied along the lines of "they drive really well." They had the same reply even if I pointed out that the previous VW's were in the shop at least seven times in five years. Drivers Wanted.

If advertising influences your decision, then it must have some sort of control over your choice. I don't know if ads produce a nation full of zombie consumers (though I lean toward that directon in my thinking), but they are so pervasive that at some point they simply cease being an aspect of reality: they become reality. I don't know if you drink Cola, but if you do I'd bet the brand pops in your head before the cola part. Ever asked for a Kleenex instead of a tissue? Or a Q-Tip instead of a cotton swab? Advertising has so many aspects that often parts of it fly under our radar, and we "choose" accordingly.

Personally, I am a sucker for design. I may drive a brand of car that I know from experience requires little, if any, repair work and will serve me for several more years, but I would love to own a new Beetle. Sooo pretty.
posted by kittyloop at 1:39 PM on November 25, 2001


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