Overspent? It’s Cyber-Monday! Got any money left?

http://www.readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-1128ov_Shiny_Objects_book_cover_James_Roberts.jpgWelcome to Cyber-Monday!
Since 2005, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been a big day for online sales. Many claim that Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the season, but industry experts at ComScore say that happened only once: in 2010. Nonetheless, online sales have grown steadily year after year, despite the recession, at a compound annual growth rate of 16%. That’s quite a trend! And, today is expected to set a new record, with ComScore experts forecasting online sales topping $1.2 billion. This idea is spreading globally. Today goes down in the marketing history books as the inaugural Cyber-Monday in Chile.

What are your plans today? My email inbox is stuffed with deals from every online retailer I have ever used. I’ve glanced at a few and have felt tempted to click for more information. I haven’t bought anything yet, but I have been wondering about the meaning of it all.

Does shopping define our lives? Here’s what economist and marketing specialist Victor Lebow said about the “real meaning” of our consumer culture: “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns—the very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms.”

As an instructor at a major university, I know this consumer culture affects young and old! Lebow wrote his famous analysis in 1955, but he is quoted once again in a brand-new book by Baylor University professor of marketing James Roberts. The new book is called Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy. University students are rapidly joining the overspent bandwagon, Roberts shows us. In just four years, between 2004 and 2008, the percentage of college freshmen with a zero balance on their credit cards slid from 69 percent to just 15 percent today. That’s a lot of debt piling up. Just imagine what’s going on in university dorm rooms on Cyber-Monday this year!

What do you think about Cyber-Monday and ordering online?

Do you find satisfaction in shopping?

Do you feel overspent?

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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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