November 30th, 2011
Lamenting Our Sad, Sick Obsession With Stuff

On Black Friday, after another helping of delicious leftovers, I languidly sat on the couch and contemplated what all the shopping lunatics must be doing at that moment. See, my idea of hell is an infinite shopping mall. It would be filled with restaurants like Sbarro and stores like Old Navy. There would be endless booths selling tacky sports trinkets. The air would perpetually smell of Cinnabon.

I hate consumerism and I avoid crowds, particularly frenzied ones in which people trample each other in their quest for stupid gadgets. The only shopping I did on Black Friday was at a used bookstore. It was intentional.

I’ve never been very interested in acquiring “things.” This is probably why I was willing to pursue a career in poetry — not exactly the most lucrative choice. (While all the other Chican@s were pursuing business degrees, silly Oh Hells Nah was obsessing over punctuation and Emily Dickinson). I don’t really enjoy shopping very much and I often feel guilty, which is probably a result of growing up poor. I used to feel bad when indulging in bag of apples. What a luxury these pink lady apples were to me! I have gotten better, however, but still feel a tinge of guilt when I buy myself a pair of nice leather boots, for example. (Oh, how I love leather! I am Mexican, after all.)

Though I  can sometimes appreciate material objects, of course, I’ve never understood our culture’s obsession with “stuff.” I couldn’t give a flying crap about cars or opulent houses. I am not impressed by money and I am grossed out when people flaunt it. I don’t care about your dumb car if you have a turd for a soul. Once, some moron who hit on me bar told me that he was “worth 1 million dollars.” I gave him my best fuchi face and walked away.

As I was laughing it up with my family on Thanksgiving night, I thought of all those losers camped out in front of Best Buy. I would never in my life trade a fun evening with my family for an iPad or flatscreen TV. In fact, I feel sorry for those who value electronics over community, relationships, and love in general. I also felt sorry for all those who had to work that night because of our culture’s sick obsession with material objects. Had I cared deeply enough about shopping to forgo Thanksgiving dinner, I wouldn’t have the precious memory of 5-year- old niece wiping her tongue with a paper towel after eating my pineapple cake — that was priceless!

There is something terribly, terribly wrong with our country when people get trampled on by a stampede of shoppers, when people use pepper spray on their competition at Walmart, when kids grow up thinking that the meaning of life is to acquire the most crap. This kind of consumerist culture causes people to treat each other like disposable commodities. I find it disturbing and I don’t care how radical that may sound for some people. Can you imagine explaining a death caused by shopping stampede at Walmart to a refugee in the Third World? Honestly, I’m embarrassed for us.

Here’s a thought for all of those who’d pummel a person for an iPad: you’re not taking your stuff with you when you die.

[Photo By jbthescots]

Leave a Reply