I saw an online advertisement last week, asking people to “Pledge to Shop Small.” It was the first I had heard about this new “Small Business Saturday,” in which consumers are asked to ignore their primal impulse to save money, which they voraciously set free on Black Friday. Instead, they are asked to catch their breath from the previous day’s mayhem and set forth once again, all in the name of stimulating the economy.
Armed with the money that they triumphantly saved the day before, they are now expected to “take one for the American team” and spend it on stuff sold in local stores, even though it might be more expensive.
Aside from the counter-intuitive timing of it all, I get it. It makes sense.
And I thought about doing it – or at the very least making a pledge to do it, as the advertisement asked me to.
But then I just thought, bleh. And decided not to.
The bleh is more than just the general laziness that I personally endure day after day. It is a broad-spectrum, all-encompassing bleh having to do with the state of everything. More specifically: the country.
I’ll insert here the fact that I don’t know, nor do I pretend to know, much of anything about economics or politics. I know the basic gist about how the United States got to be in the economic shitter only as far as how it affects me personally.
But aside from the basic facts about the economy fed to me via late night monologues, when it comes to actually learning about what is going on, I typically opt to just say bleh and change the channel or flip the page.
It is not because I don’t care to know or because I am too lazy to try to figure it out. It’s all simply just… too much.
What does it all mean? When extremely large figures are spewed at me alongside extremely negative words, my brain just shuts down. When I hear words like recession, debt, or deficit occur in the same sentence as a number that requires four commas, my head instinctively does this thing where it almost indiscernibly shakes back and forth. It does it partially to express my displeasure in hearing such an atrocity, but also to shake up the words as they enter my ears so that my brain won’t make sense of it. It is some form of Darwinian self-preservation mechanism wherein my brain makes a preemptive strike to not allow soul-crushing realizations to come to fruition.
On the surface it appears as if I am just sitting there, slightly shaking my head. But inside my brain, it is as if there is a little man sticking his index fingers into each ear and chanting “LALALALALALALALALA” because someone is trying to reveal who got eliminated on Dancing with the Stars before he gets the chance to watch it on Tivo.
The state of the country is simply not something I wish to fully grasp.
The fact that I am afraid of fully grasping it is something I only just came to terms with when I realized that I was too lazy to pledge to shop at local stores.
It is weak, I know. But it all just feels too big. I feel as if the campaign is too small to fix the problem, and that my effort is too small for the campaign.
And forget about talking to others. My ignorance-is-bliss mentality doesn’t really bode well for having a dialogue with other human beings about current affairs.
I asked myself, “When was the last time you talked about the economy?”
The conversation I came up with was more of a general combination of every conversation I have ever had about the economy, and I’ve outlined it for you here:
Other person: “Hey Youngman, how bout that economy.”
And then I will roll my eyes and flip my hand in the air, as if to say “God, I’m so over talking about that subject.” Sometimes I might even actually say those words or something more along the lines of “Don’t even get me started.”
Which is fine, because I never get started.
* * *
Sometimes, I try to wrap my head around infinity or eternity. I close my eyes and imagine space going on forever and ever and ever. Or I imagine an eternal afterlife that keeps going and going and going and going and going — and then I am suddenly jolted with a split-second comprehension of the mind-blowing incomprehension of it all, which is coated with a distinct sense of sadness and fear of the unfathomable unknown.
I get the same jolt of emotions when thinking about the enormity of the economic quandary.
It is sad, really. I am a part of the generation that is supposed to collectively band together and figure out a way to get us out of the situation. And here I am, too lazy/scared/overwhelmed to take the time and effort to fully comprehend the problem itself.
But at the same time, I didn’t participate in any of the snipping in this castration of the economic system of the United States of America. And I have no clue what I can provide in such a situation, aside from a band-aid. Though, I am fairly certain that misses the point.
But if I do get around to it, then fine — I pledge to buy the band-aid at a local store.
You’re welcome, America.