Friday, December 10, 2010

Smarmy Elitist Holiday Naysayers (Rant)

As a recovering elitist, one that came from high tech and the "new" economy, I often have to hold my tongue at those who decry the holidays as a morass of evil consumerism. These feelings are generally espoused by iPad wielding, highly educated, liberal dweebs (takes one to know one) who claim that they will never step foot in a brick and mortar store again, that all of the world is available online, and that the rest of us are rubes for partaking in our annual mob-like frenzy of consumerism. I used to be one of these folks, crowing that I found my house online, my cars online, and even my WIFE online! The online world was mine for the taking.

Now that I'm an old economy small business owner, I have to object to the lumping of all of us into the McRetail category of mass consumerism. Over half the non-government jobs in this country come from small business and most of the money you spend with us (two thirds according to American Express) goes into the local community, something you won't get from the likes of Amazon, a company that fights the demand that they collect sales tax. I've considered creating a flow chart of how $100 spent at my store flows into the community, but you would find it shockingly complex. It would include dozens of taxes, including everything from supporting the local schools to mosquito abatement.

What most of those dweebs (again, takes one to know one) miss is that we're part of our communities. By definition, if we've survived this long, through recession and the predatory practices of the Wal-Marts and Barnes & Nobles of the world, we must be offering something our communities want. We support local charities, advertise in school newsletters (pretty infective but responsible), and attempt to work with our communities when our interests intersect. We do this because they are us.

This is lost on the dweebs because they generally don't have much sense of community. They are consumers, not customers, not regulars, and definitely not hobbyists with relationships with their local businesses. I believe they rail against their own sense of disconnect with the world around them. Their relationship with the places they buy are often no more than a website and a credit card number. So when they encourage holiday boycotts of businesses, it's usually because they've already got their orders placed on Amazon and can't see the point of leaving their suburban homes to join the hustle and bustle, and definitely don't know why you would spend a dollar more down the street, or pay sales tax if you didn't have to. They see their dollars flowing to China rather than their local communities, so why not?

They have a point about consumerism, and this country will be digging itself out of personal debt for the next decade. I've come to grips with my own consumption and how it relates to my beliefs. Growing a community was hard for me as a former dweeb, as it was mostly theoretical. Before my own store, I was just like them

Alright, rant off, and feel free to slip that iPad under my door.

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