Social justice shopping in the age of COVID?

After reading Manrepeller’s article on ‘Should we still be shopping?‘, my friends and I got into an interesting discussion on the topic of shopping to save the industry vs. shopping to distract ourselves from endless sources of tragic news and pure boredom. The crux of the argument, the article well summarizes with this:

Because even beyond the debate over where our money is most impactful right now, there’s also the concern that continuing to order non-essential things puts warehouse and postal service workers at risk, but on the other hand, I know a lot of employment is probably dependent on those orders coming in. It’s really a double-edged sword.

Manrepeller

Personally, during the first week of the new normal, from facetiming and zooming friends to eating takeout, I spent $1,000+. On things I needed for a WFH setup to cute Lunya shorts that looked incredible to lounge in (with loungwear being, of course, the new Wear-to-Work fit that you need). As silly or essential I deemed my purchases, I realized that I justified each one through the lens of COVID: I will work better if I look and feel better at home, I am giving businesses money to sustain themselves and their employees, I’ll likely need that in the coming weeks if social distancing continues.

I never quite bought into the thought philosophy of ‘are we prolonging the virus because we’re asking retail employees and the supply chain to continue, when in reality they should also be at home and resting with their families?’ And especially in all of this, realizing that many do not have the luxury to fill their time with online consumerism because they have babies to feed or have lost their jobs. I mean, is shopping prolonging this pandemic, or helping the economy survive? It’s like we’re asking people a cruel ‘would you rather’ question:

Would you rather lose your job? Or be exposed to potential death…?

I mean, sorry to put it so bluntly, but it’s quite true. You don’t know whose mother packaged your yoga mat, or whose grandson delivered it to your door. The truth is, anyone who has the power to spend cash on frivolous items are likely out of the loop a bit. We’re definitely not grounded in truth or any types of harsh reality. Yes, we might be sad and feel like we’re drowning in NYT or WSJ daily updates on death toll, but we’re really not living the tragedy of the mass.

On the flip side, we’ve become so reliant on our governments to do everything for us. They push out a stimulus package, and we immediately say it’s not enough. Even with that arena, we seem to think that this is ‘someone else’s problem’ and that when things go wrong, we have someone else to blame. Whether it be the government for their lack of funding and care, or the ‘evil retailers’ laying off their workers left and right. It’s never us, but rather ‘them’, that we call the enemy.

This COVID crisis seems to be an affirmation of how capitalism really helped put into structure more prosperity and peace in some ways (not in every way, but definitely in some ways). We now see capitalism having unraveled, and more socialism come into play – how… interesting and also somewhat tragic that has been; it seems like when billion dollar giants fall, we all fall. Success, in large part, feels like it comes from helping everyone succeed. Not one person can be healthy and happy by themselves, but we need a collective mass behind that movement for it to have an affect on you.

COVID affects every single person: even the Canadian on the sailboat by himself. And a soon-to-hit recession will be felt by everyone, whether rich or sick, poor or healthy. We are all in this together – and it feels like this is one global lesson God is teaching us.

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