American Culture, Shopping, and Christmas
I hate to shop.
My wife loves to shop.
Cultural Anthropologist and Marketing Guru, Clotaire Rapaille, writes (The Culture Code) about why people around the world live and buy as they do. Each culture, he tells us, has a code that if discovered can tap into the deep unconscious impulses that motivate our behavior.
So let’s dip our toe into the cold deep water of culture and test out what a deeply American activity like “shopping” might mean. The American Culture Code for shopping, according to Rapaille, is “RECONNECTING WITH LIFE.”
In frontier days, he explains, going to town to buy groceries or supplies gave homesteaders one of their few chances to connect with others. Going to the mall or the store is more about getting out of the house, leaving the isolation of one’s solitary existence and reconnecting with life and others. In fact, observes Rappaile, “buying” is a negative in that it signifies for women that the end of the shopping
experience is near.
Hmm. Well if you put it that way….
One of the first fights I had with my wife was on how we would celebrate Christmas.
I couldn’t believe she wanted a tree and all the frivolous pagan ornamentations.
And shopping? An absolute paganization of the incarnation.
I was wrong. She saw the forest. I saw the twig. In fact, shopping may be one of the most collegial and relational behaviors available to us. I admit I’ve not been to a mall twice in a decade of Christmas holidays.
After all, the internet is for buying.
The internet is for buying but stores are for shopping and buying. Shopping is about people. About rubbing elbows. About rekindling the sense of community connection. About remembering that there are other people out there. It’s normal to want to be around others. And I say this as an introvert and as a loner.
One of the themes of my writing and teaching is “let’s get normal” again. It’s time to reconnect with life, society, culture, our neighborhoods, and the people that inhabit these good worlds. So here’s the thought. Sure, we’re consumeristic. Yes, we’re individualistic. Here’s a solution. Get normal. Reconnect with life. Go shopping.
Buying? Well that’s another subject.
See you in the Mystic