Maggie Smith / Uncategorized

Hold Your (Holiday) Horses (Maggie Smith)

It’s not even Halloween yet, but for retailers, it’s already Christmas. Tree and ornament displays are already set up, music is being pumped from the overhead speakers and notices of holiday sales are being sent out to mailboxes all over the country. It’s supposed to put you into the holiday spirit, but honestly, all it does is annoy me.

It’s understandable, especially with the economy being as bad as it is, that we all want to get the best deals we possibly can on holiday gifts, decorations, and other items. But how soon is too soon to start displaying holiday merchandise? How soon is too soon to be playing Christmas music? Sometimes it seems that America’s fixation on materialism has gotten to be too much. We’re one of the richest nations in the world and the latest gadgets are constantly advertised on TV, radio, the Internet, basically wherever we look.

The instant a computer comes out and we buy it, the next model appears on shelves, leaving us feeling as though we need to keep up… and we never really can because technology is advancing blindingly fast.

We’re on a dangerous trend of materialism, which is recognized by some popular young adult novels. I recently finished reading M.T. Anderson’s Feed, (published in 2002) a young adult science-fiction novel set in the future where everyone is implanted at birth with a chip that gives them a constant stream of advertisements and useful knowledge; it’s like your smart phone has been installed right inside your brain. What’s eerie about it is that the book is all about how materialism has risen up so much over the years — and much of it rings true today. The title of the book alone is a little creepy, especially since it was published quite a few years before Twitter, Facebook and the advent of their “feed” features that give us a constant stream of happenings. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my Twitter feed running through my head at all times.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, in which a plane full of beauty queens headed to an important pageant crashes on a deserted island, is another young adult novel about the dangers of materialism. The novel satirizes consumer culture in America, the influence of television and politics. Like Feed, it’s eerily perceptive about what’s going on in the country today.

There are numerous other dystopian novels similar to those two, and I think the messages within those and other books are a warning to be heeded, not ignored. Retailers turn holidays from seasons of joy into a time of worry over who has the most money or time in order to buy the best gifts and get the best deals. How do you feel about materialism in America? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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