My Take on Giving Tuesday
After deleting 45 unwanted emails from my inbox this morning, I thought a little about all the pleas for donations on Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday was an idea concocted to counter the hyper-consumer-oriented days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday were good ideas, then Giving Tuesday would be an appropriate way to compensate for some our most pernicious human behaviors. However, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are horrible ideas, and so is Giving Tuesday.
Thankfully, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going the way of the dinosaurs. Retailers began offering door busting Christmas deals long before Thanksgiving (even before Halloween – not that this is a good idea either). Black Friday sales are reported to be down this year. But this is not due to a poor economy or the increased savings propensity of consumers. Rather, it is because consumers have already done a lot of their Christmas shopping (I admit I have even bought some potentially hard to find gifts already). Malls this last weekend were busy but not as frenetic as in the past. Internet sales, however, were setting records – even before Cyber Monday. People can’t even wait to get home and get on their computer to make these purchases – smart phone sales are over 40% of Internet sales and rising.
It is bad enough that Duluth Trading reminds me daily that I need to buy more underwear. Or that Kohl’s offers new deals on a daily basis as well. Every retailer I have ever bought from over the Internet thinks I need to buy more and more. And that I need to be reminded of this need every day! I try to spread my purchases around and not rely solely on Amazon. But at least if I bought everything from Amazon, I might only get one or two emails a day urging me to buy something.
But it is not just retailers. I try to make donations to various organizations on a quarterly basis. But every organization I give to thinks I need to make more and more donations. I get two or three emails a week from Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, or one of his students asking for another donation. I had five requests from the University of Michigan this morning. I like the University of Michigan (although I am still on the fence about Jim Harbaugh), but the University of Michigan has an ungodly amount of money already (they just raised $5 billion more in the latest round).
I get countless requests to fill out surveys, both by email and snail mail. If they really valued my opinion, I might fill out some of these surveys, but they are only thinly veiled pretenses that are, in fact, additional requests for money. Besides, the survey questions are so slanted to the organization’s point of view that there are no choices for a more nuanced viewpoint (of which I like to believe my opinions to be).
In the time it has taken to write these paragraphs I have received eleven emails. Five of them were requests for donations (most of the others were fake offers that are attempting to mine me for personal information). They all go into the trash.
I am sick of it. Between retailers, charitable organizations, other NGOs and scammers, everyone is trying to get into my wallet (and yours too!). Keep your friends and family close – because to everyone else out there you are nothing but source of funding.
Many people (myself included) believe that this relentless merchandising of the Christmas Season has ruined the holidays. Everything is so frenetic that all the joy is lost. Kids these days don’t want toys or clothes for their presents, they want thousand-dollar smart phones so they can ignore you while they text their friends.
So that is my rant for Giving Tuesday. But don’t despair this Christmas Season (or Winter Holiday Season for you progressives). Keep a tight hold on your wallet. Donate where you think it will do some good. Give gifts that will make the recipients think of you and smile. And think about what the Christmas Season should be like and then go out and do what you can to make it happen.