No Holds Barred: Year-End Mania! – New York Social Diary

Year ends used to mean something. After all, there was Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’ issue. Covers are now of women or a group as 1998 Time editor Walter Isaacson explained: “Most affected the news and our lives for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year for better or worse.” So, we had The Ebola Fighters in 2014, Donald Trump in 2016, “The Silence Breakers” (#MeToo movement journalists) in 2017, “The Guardians” (journalists who paid a price for reporting) in 2018, Greta Thunberg in 2019, and of course Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as “impactors in 2020.” I always thought the Covid virus would be acknowledged, but not a person or a group. But what impact! And then came Elon Musk in 2021.

This year of course it’s Volodymyr Zelensky. He was made for Time’s Man Person of the Year. But do we even care anymore? Writer Lance Morrow wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal entitled When Time’s ‘Man of the Year’ Meant Something (he should know as he wrote seven ‘Man of the Year’ stories for Time). As he says, “Man of the Year was a bigger deal. So, for that matter, were the Academy Awards and the Presidency.”
And don’t forget we live in a fast lane barrage of saints and sinners daily. Now we are numb to all the names. Even recently reading about Vladimir Putin’s fall from his home steps and crapping in his pants was heralded as world news. So What. And he was Man of the Year in 2007.
I don’t think people care about events of the year; they are more consumed with the never-ending bargain shopping explosion. Even though we are in a massive job lay off (from Amazon to CNN), Black Friday set new sales records.
Imagine — we still call it “Black Friday” and it doesn’t offend. I suppose because black stands for profit which Thanksgiving weekend is supposed to do — to get us all out of the “red” loss zone.
Online it was a record breaking $9.12 billion. It seems Americans are dipping deep into their savings while creating credit card debt. But who cares as Cyber Monday topped out at $11.3 billion — more than two years ago.
I remember a famous t-shirt with the saying “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” And wow, have we ever. The post-holiday rise of Covid (nobody checks the once-popular New York Times daily Covid Tracker anymore) isn’t stopping the boom in brick-and-mortar stores either. Clearly, we don’t need those 6 a.m. doorbuster stampedes for 90-inch TV sets anymore.
I noticed in July the year-end sales started, even though 20% (the starting low price) is hardly a bargain. But from then our emails are full of “Hurry … offer ends soon.” So, we end up exhausted and broke by New Year’s. People can’t help themselves on being hooked on the “sale-a-bration.”
It seems gift cards are still tops, but kids today don’t want cash anymore. They want to be gifted through Roblox — a social gaming app. They don’t want crinkled up old bills. They want “Robux” (a digital currency which only has value on the app) to buy their virtual Louis Vuitton handbags and virtual Gucci jackets. What is going on here? Real money vs. virtual gaming currency? I guess all roads do lead eventually to Sam Bankman Fried’s FTX exchange.

But here’s the real scary issue. Shopping scams and hack frauds. Not only can your final “cart of goodies” get ripped off last minute, but now the store you THINK you are shopping in may not actually even exist. My insurance company is now running “scaminars” for seniors (the most vulnerable market) to learn what to watch for. Apparently, we all have to practice cyber security;
*Don’t click on any suspicious link
*Don’t respond to emails requesting to update passwords or change personal info
*No pre-paid gift cards
*Check your credit card statements carefully and often
*Check every URL for legitimacy

In the end, if anything seems too good to be true, it probably is (that goes for relationships as well).
Deep discounts can mean deep scams. There is something very karmic about all our spending being punished by all this fraud. I never thought pan handling would become such a big online business.
Remember when shopping was a life enhancing diversion? A legit sport. Now shopping has become hazardous to your existence. “Shop till you drop” has a new meaning.
I get daily text messages from “Amazon,” “Netflix,”  and my “bank” that announce they are “freezing my account” (all scams). I even got a cell phone message from the “IRS” saying they would arrest me in 5 days if I didn’t call back. And scam writers and web designers are getting really legitimate looking and sounding in their hustle. I can’t tell the fake Chase Bank logo from the real one.

I don’t care how deal hungry you are, all this deception has put a kibosh on the fun of spending. No wonder dumpster diving has become so popular on TikTok. There are professional dumpster divers (talk about THE athletics in the sport of shopping) who post videos of rejected products from Duane Reade, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods.
Not all stores distribute their unsold or returned goods to landfills. A lot of them throw them in back-alley dumpsters — unused and unopened! So much for sustainability and charitable donations. These Dumpster Divers post the products for sale, and I can see where “trash walks” are the new consumer experience. After all, you have to throw yourself into the bin to get the goods. A form of shopping “fire walking.”

Originally, I thought this was the year of “giving back,” of being grateful for all we have and gifting with consciousness. But who made a bigger impact on overall expenditures than the rash of store thieves who made their presence known cross country. They have “Robin Hooded” themselves through many luxe department stores and boutiques — all of them recorded on camera and rarely arrested. Heists have been the theme of 2022.
Last week a Burlington Store in Florida caught a man on camera going out the front door at 3:00 pm on Black Friday with hefty bags of stolen good and a giant daisy chain of hundreds of handbags. He clocked out with $5000 worth of stolen loot. He even passed a sign as he departed out of the exit door which read, “See you soon for your next treasure hunt!”

Now … I ask you. Shouldn’t this guy be considered the Man Person of the Year?


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