Consumer paralysis

I used to go ham getting discounted stuff on Black Friday. This year it feels a bit different. I still like going shopping, but it’s become difficult for me to pay for things without knowing the story behind the product’s creation even though the discounts are tempting.

Regardless of how witty and punny the ads are, everything looks the same— even brands that are known for their distinctive styles started to look somewhat similar to one another. Maybe mass consumer brands are collectively uninspired.

What inspired me though, as I strolled down Newbury Street in Boston, was how excited people were trying out new technology with their loved ones and family. I saw that at Apple Store where kids made art on the latest iPad Pro, and at Microsoft’s surface store where couples were playing Naruto on Xbox. I kind of wish I could see more physical stores leveraging technology to elevate their in-store experience to help people create more meaningful memories.

The streets weren’t as crowded as I’d expected, maybe because more people prefer curling in bed and shop online when it’s so cold outside. Maybe the discounts are no longer as special when there are all kinds of holidays created for some wild reasons throughout the year. But what I want to believe is that more people realize meaningful memories aren’t made through these artificial holidays.

I told Mark that I’ve reached a point of “purchase paralysis” — unwilling and not excited to buy just for the sake of possessing. What matters most to me was just being able to spend time with him and seeing his eyes lit up when seeing cool products. The true holiday is as simple as having the luxury of time to share a cup of perfect espresso as we have our debate on PC vs. Mac.

The love, memories, and meanings we look for are rarely in the things we get to own. If we just look at what we cherish, it’s not hard to arrive at this realization.

A long-time sucker for clothes and paperbacks, I’m thinking of donating most of them to Goodwill before I graduate college, as they start to give me more anxiety than joy.