Woooohooo some Christmas FUN!
And of course you know when I say fun, I mean make FUN of. 🙂
So if I started with whats wrong with Christmas, the blog would never end. The consumerism is just astounding and the discourse on gift giving gives ME an allergic reaction. I love short sweet sentiments, non expensive yet priceless gifts, and any excuse used to justify spending time with family and friends. I just wish people would focus on that instead of… you know, buying EVERYTHING that advertisers are telling them to.
Exhibit A: Sexy Christmas costumes. Men, women, children… something for everyone. Need I say more?
Exhibit B: Some #s and $ spent and how through conditioning we become slaves.
“The thrust of this consumerist message is that the holiday is most fully realized through the acquisition of “things.” Advertisements bombard us with images of bountiful Christmas scenes in which beautiful packages surround the tree, and “happiness” is achieved upon the receipt of this or that consumer product. Credit card issuers alone (those most interested in seeing you spend what you don’t have) spend more than $150 million on holiday advertising and promotions. Evidence that these messages work is found in the fact that more than 50 percent of Christmas shoppers will spend well over what they planned to and go further into debt, according to famed financial guru Dave Ramsey.
As to the severity of this debt, Ramsey points out that “more than $70 billion, over half of what was charged last year, ended up as revolving debt and the interest on last year’s gifts are still being paid today.” On average, “two-thirds (65 percent) of shoppers overspent their budget by $100–$500 and 75 percent overspent by $50–$100.”
Exhibit C: Gender roles are reinforced by Christmas and that is annoying. Really annoying.
So…. presents are one thing. Pink barbies for girls, blue toy trucks for boys. “Barbies for girls, cars for boys? Let toys be toys and get them gender neutral presents this Christmas” is an interesting article that really brings up the main issues. The author asks an important question, “Seven days and counting. Are little Jack’s Transformers all wrapped and ready to go? Are you excited about the look on Emily’s face when she opens her Barbie Dream House play set? Or are you of the new and growing band of parents who this Christmas said: ‘Sod it, my child is a child and not a gender stereotype’?
She goes over the gendering of boys as aggressive through the types of toys they are socialized to like, toy guns and other weapons. What we have learned about aggressive stimuli states that, well parents, this is just a plain old BAD idea. Girls, Barbie, and a negative body image…. also hand in hand with little girls Christmas toys. Socialization starts early and has long lasting influences on attitudes, behaviors, self esteem, but also how children relate to “things” and what is to be valued and how/when to ascribe value to objects and events.
What about the adults? Take a look!Well this is funny because of the famous gender role reversal tactic towards exposing and aiming to change attitudes and behaviors…. It wouldn’t be funny if the schemas were not so strongly entrenched in all of our minds that when the are reversed in this way, what results is hilarity and absurdity.
Now, what I will write next will be expected yet unexpected. I think you all know by now I am anything but trusting when it comes to political and religious figures. ALL of them are suspect. Yes I will work with them to support attitude and behavior change, and exploit that informational and normative social influence, but that in no way means I will TRUST them for at any moment they can change the direction and use their power of social influence for evil. BUT, and I can’t believe I am saying this, I am going to say something NICE about a catholic pope. He has been pretty famous this year for being the most progressive and empathetic pope the catholic church has maybe EVER seen. Really, take a look at some of the cute and sweet and EMPATHETIC things he has done this year, modeling prosocial behavior. Oh yeah, and of course another golden moment is when he said this: “Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light”.
HERE is where he won my heart and he won it good. As you know, I work with refugees. Here is what he had to say about this group, that is usually used as the scapegoat for any and every hardship a nation state faces:
“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more. A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”
And THEN, he gave them Christmas presents 🙂 instead of blame 😦 and prejudice 😦 and discrimination 😦
“Each gift package contained a Christmas card signed by Pope Francis, postal stamps, a pre-paid international calling card and a free day-pass for the metro in Rome. The packages were sent to allow them to write letters and call their loved ones overseas during the holiday.”
Back to us ordinary folk, take a look at my office decorations. It is made up of small and meaningful acts of kindness and remembrance, little inexpensive yet PRICELESS gifts. There was a new addition today, but I didn’t get a chance to take a new photo yet.
So HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all and I hope we spend at least a little bit of that time reflecting on the power of social influence and how it effects us at this time of year. Don’t even get me started on the discourse of New Years because then really, I wont be able to stop complaining and critiquing. Think about how we can use social influence for good, for social change whether it be small acts of kindness or big campaigns aimed at changing attitudes. That is social psychology’s gift to you. You’re welcome!