Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mothers Day: Sadly, Overcommercialized

By Joy Pullmann

I do not like to receive gifts for Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. And don't even think about Sweetheart's Day or whatever else they're calling further additions to the list of "buy crap no one wants because commercials made you feel guilty."

Mother's Day advertisements on my Kindle and email sidebars began a solid three weeks before Mother's Day. It may have been four weeks. Whatever it was, it was indecent. Mother's Day is not even on the A-list of holidays. That, for me, includes Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And maybe the Fourth of July. Those would be the top two Christian holidays and the top two American holidays. (By the way, President's Day and Labor Day are also stupid.)

There is nothing wrong with celebrating mothers, or presidents, in the abstract. But, at core, I think people should be honoring their mothers all year round, not hurriedly on one day a year and at the behest of companies who want you to spend despite whether that's a good decision for you at the time. I cannot decide whether it's cognitive dissonance for me to support the free market while not wanting to be hounded by advertisements all my life. I guess I don't mind the advertisements. I mind the idea that they might change my behavior from what I've decided is good, such as putting extra money towards our mortgage principal rather than towards glittery cards and restaurant meals I don't even want.

If my little children picked me ditch flowers or put their gooby hands into paint on cards for Mother's Day, I would like that. But, as some of my female friends have complained, if I had to serve up a huge dinner for my own mom on Mother's Day and clean up afterwards, that would kind of ruin the day (if I weren't a mom of little kids that would be fine, but I can hardly cook for us right now!).

I think what's annoying about Mother's Day and all these other non-holiday holidays is the opportunity they present to make me feel pressured to do something I don't want to do. I kind of feel like they force people to exhibit a certain sentiment, when it does not matter to me unless it is genuine. So if Mother's Day is an occasion to continue cherishing the mothers among us, great. If it is an occasion to spend a lot of time and money covering hypocrisy with glitter, it deserves to meet the trash bin.

Image by Georgie Sharp.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's necessarily cognitive dissonance to support free markets but find advertisements annoying. What the government has a responsibility to do (or not do) is a separate question from what individuals (and individuals who make advertising decisions for businesses) have a responsibility to do. I think the government has a responsibility to (for example) not trample on free speech rights, and I think individuals have a responsibility to not say nasty things about each other. So I think you can say "I don't think the government should regulate businesses and their advertising, but I think a lot of advertisers are being obnoxious about it, and I wish they would stop pressuring me into stuff I don't want to do."


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