Reflections about Psychology and consumerism in Black Friday.
Sometimes I wonder how we adopted certain traditions that we find ourselves surrounded by. For example, giving presents in Christmas, or during the 3 king´s celebration (Spain), or the weeks before Sinterklaas comes and when finally he does come (Netherlands), Saint Valentine´s day, Mother´s day, Father´s day, Grandparent´s day, and any day that commemorates a relative that worked hard to make us who we are. Sometimes I wonder how we started thinking that to celebrate those days, to show care and appreciation about those human beings, we had to actually buy something and give it as a present. Why do we link the idea of giving a present with buying something? As if writing a letter or drawing a funny face in a piece of paper would not be enough. As if words would not be enough.
Then, as if we did not have enough temptations during the year to abandon ourselves to the frenetic rollercoaster of consumerism a new date was added. It could seem that Black Friday is a good opportunity to save money in the presents for Christmas -because we have to buy expensive things and give them as presents for Christmas, right? - . We can observe hordes of people coming into the shops to look for that thing that we saw one week ago, we want that thing and we want it cheaper, for as much money that we spend in things -in things- we are always up to save some money in them, whatever the cost. Black Friday is the reminder that fierce capitalism uses to remind us that we need more. We have enough, but because we can, we want more, and we want it a bit cheaper. Black Friday is here to remind us that consumerism is still here, and is here to stay.
In the field of Psychology, I have even seen professionals trying to sell therapy as if it was the latest accessory that your wardrobe need. Offering ¨new therapies¨ as if it would be Botox. Or the newest equivalent of the ¨new Botox¨ (pardon me, I don´t follow cosmetic surgery news). ¨Are you fed up with Botox? Come and try the new version, this time without a needle¨. This surprises and annoys me in equal terms, as a (simple, humble, learning) psychologist. Psychological therapy is not an object to be sold, is not an accessory, is not an offer. It can be a commodity, I don´t argue about that. But is not an offer to take or leave, is not a new spinning class, is not the new Zara dress. As psychologists, whether we work in the social, clinical, industrial or educative field, we have to be conscious that we work with people who at some point in their lives, are struggling. Yes, we also pay bills, a mortgage, food, clothes, trips and education. Yes, we pay that with money too. We work precariously at times, but the thing about our profession that we can never forget is that we work with people who suffer. We work with different people with different reasons for suffering, but making therapy appear as the new object to acquire in Black Friday only diminishes our profession and do very little for the people who seek help. As psychologists, especially if we have our own practice, it can be tricky to put oneself in the market and still keep our professional integrity. That is something that goes beyond any code of ethics. This Black Friday, I invite everyone to think about a small act of resistance against capitalism in our daily life and jobs.