Consumerism in its purest formulation is not about acquiring particular material goods. Rather, it is about the act of acquiring itself. I saw a great illustration of this principle yesterday when I read an account of one woman’s experience at a Black Friday sale. According to the article in The Guardian, Louise Haggerty lined up at midnight hoping to get a television set on sale.
The frenzy that ensued — punching, kicking, clawing — left Haggerty bewildered and repulsed (she describes the frenzy of materialistic mayhem as “absolutely disgusting”). It also left her without the television set she had come to buy. So she began looking about for something else to purchase. And by “something else” I don’t mean another television set. I mean another deal. Then her eyes settled on it: the Dyson vacuum cleaners were on sale too, and they were still available!
Moments later Haggerty was lined up at the till with her new trophy. Mission accomplished!
But as the fog of compulsive consumption cleared hours later she made an observation that might serve as a caption for the entire debacle we call “Black Friday”:
“I got a Dyson but I don’t even know if I want it. I just picked it up.”