Boxing Day 2011, a fight that started at a Footlocker store on London’s Oxford Street leads to the death of an 18 year old boy. Will this make people see what consumerism is doing to our lives?
I had decided to write a post about consumer culture after witnessing crazy shoppers in my town before Christmas, and hearing about death at the sales made me more determined to write it.
I was walking through Birmingham town centre three days before Christmas and got agitated and very annoyed; I just couldn’t shake my invisibility cloak so kept getting people knocking me as they walked past, desperate to buy stuff for their friends and family. And it’s not just Christmas time that people barge past, rushing to buy more things… every weekend, every school holiday, town is exactly the same; I try to avoid it as much as possible.
Why do people feel the need to buy lots of stuff? Shopping isn’t the only past time one can do when not at work; there is more to life than buying things, that for the most part aren’t actually a necessity. Is buying the latest gadget or fashion piece really that important? And for that matter, is anything really worth getting up early to queue for, to be harassed by other people for? Worth dying for?
I’m just speculating here, as information surrounding the murder at Oxford Street is sparse, but I am assuming that the people who were fighting in the Footlocker shoe store knew and disliked each other; I’d like to think that it wasn’t just about fighting over who got to buy the last pair of some “totally cool” trainers; but with the amount of people hitting the sales and wanting anything that seems like a bargain, it does seems like a possibility that wanting something to buy was a factor in this situation. (If it does turn out that the murder had nothing to do with buying stuff, then I’ll definitely edit this post)
I absolutely do not understand why people would want to venture out to the shops, the day after Christmas when you should be pigging out, nursing a hangover or continuing the Christmas celebrations. Why would you want to be surrounded by vultures, who for the most part, are buying stuff just because it is cheap, not because they actually need it. Yes it’s a sale but you’re not really saving money if you didn’t even need it.
Back to three days before Christmas when I was in town, surrounded by people who were more than likely buying any old thing to give to their friends and family, it didn’t feel Christmassy at all. Festive songs were drowned out by a rush of people; everything was hectic and crazy and stressed. A time of peace and love turned into a time of curse words muttered under your breath and people get in your way as you try to get from one place to another… and just to clarify, I was in town at the theatre as part of my birthday treat from my sister; I was not participating in this consumer madness! Well except to buy some Krispy Kremes.
I think people should spend their free time, avoiding the shops, spending time with their nearest and dearest, playing games, walking through the park, reading, cooking, making things, watching movies, horse riding, mountain climbing, cycling, playing with pets, going the theatre or museums, exploring, learning a new skill, talking… there’s so much one can do that doesn’t involve lumping carrier bags around with you and melting your plastic.
C’mon people, do something other than purchase; it’s fun, I swear. And think of the money you’ll save!