I had a dinner with my grandparents a couple of days ago. Besides a lovely meal and lots of wine they also asked me about my plans for the future. They wanted to know where I was working and if I was planning on staying there. They wanted to make sure I was paying all my insurances and saved money for my pension. And they asked me what kind of career I wanted to strive for and what I expected from my life.
Until just very recently families could rely on christmas as one of the traditional holidays evolving around a jolly good mood and, of course, lots of gift giving. Families spent all of december preparing for this lovely consumer oriented holiday. Most of our wishes were of simple substance and fairly easy to fulfil. Wish lists included things like lots of toys, a bike, a gameboy, a CD, or maybe a puppy. Everything could be taken care of with a couple of trips to the mall. Gift givers and gift receivers were happy, and so were the retail companies and the government.
Things were running smoothly. But, suddenly people started to claim they were feeling overwhelmed and stuffocated from all the items around them. Some even stopped to wish for more stuff! Individuals do now go as far as to say Santa should downsize his toy factory, others already completely gave up on presents and instead started donating the equivalent money to charity.
Experts call this horrendous trend the “experience economy”.
A mayor shift is happening and this new behaviour is threatening the holidays as we know them.
Hideous wishes take over
I am now asking you to take a very critical look at this so called experience economy. These examples will explain the sheer volume of problems we will be facing this christmas. How should families react to these new kinds of unrealistic and oh-so-not-purchaseable wishes like:
- Singing songs by the fire on a beach on Hawaii
- Hiking in Nepal
- Participating in the holy ritual of the dead in India
Or let´s take a look at the wishes of a less extreme experienceist:
- Meditate at sunrise in nature
- Dance naked in the rain with friends
- Volunteer in the community center to help for people in need
There is no way Santa is manufacturing any of these items in his toy factory. And even with the help of the whole family. We will not be able to make these dreams come true. You see where I am going with this?
Christmas might never be the same again
We can´t have a traditional christmas holiday where people stop buying decorations, downsize the whole event and start focusing on human interaction only. What is christmas when all the wishes we have can not be purchased anymore? Where would this world go if everybody stopped to shop for presents in December and instead thought of how they could create a better experience for others? What would happen to christmas if less turkeys were bought, less trees cut down and in general… less stuff bought? A christmas where it´s not about gifts but about long talks with friends and family, or about inviting strangers to your home, helping those in need and at the same time saving money for the next adventure?
Stop experiences before it´s too late
We have to set an end to this new trend before it´s too late. Our economy is build on consumers. Not on unreliable crazy adventurers who go and do whatever they feel like. Such behaviour is malicious and irresponsible. It is each end every individual´s task to be a functioning part in this society and to contribute to its growth. That´s why we need to stop dreaming of this non-materialistic nonsense and start to focus again on wishes that can actually be purchased. Don´t let experiences take away christmas as we know it. Save our holidays!