Somehow I skipped the chapter in the Handbook of Life when it explained why Black Friday has to be followed by Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and Thank You Wednesday. Oh.My.Lord. I am about to scream in anger and frustration. It wasn’t enough to culturally misappropriate Black Friday all over the planet and the entire internet, but it had to be followed by the blasted Cyber Monday as well.
I am pretty sure you were bombarded from all sides with Giving Tuesday messages like I was. There was absolutely no escaping it. They showed up in emails, the spam box, on videos, and you couldn’t click anything on social media without stumbling into a request or encouragement to donate to your favourite charity. The first hour of Giving Tuesday I thought it was some kind of a strange coincidence or another peculiar trend like Fridays for Future, until I looked it up. I almost fell off my chair when I read it has been an official concept since 2011. Official?! There is even a dedicated website for it!
I fail to see or accept the reasoning behind having to highlight one particular day for something we do throughout the year anyway. Let’s talk about CyberMonday for a minute. We buy electronics and software the whole year round, and aren’t about to wait for next CyberMondy to roll around before you buy what you need. Besides, whatever is on offer on CyberMonday was probably already covered by Black Friday, just a question of finding out which day offers the bigger discount.
I have an even greater issue with Giving Tuesday. I already have a problem with the yearly requests to donate to orphans, homeless, the aged, the poor, the animal shelters, the abandoned llamas, you name it there will be a reason to extort a donation out of you on Christmas. When I visited orphanages in India and the Philippines in the past, all the employees and volunteers complained that they are flooded with food and donations during Christmas, but struggle the entire year to keep things running. One nun in India wailed that there were 12 good months in a year that companies could choose from to support the charity, why do people think they only need cheer and joy around Christmas? Don’t the homeless need your compassion and kindness on a daily basis? Shouldn’t generosity be a primary practice in everyone’s life to begin with? Why on earth do we need one particular day to be generous? What am I missing?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the donating per se that bothers me, it is the converging on one day or one season. There is something perversely wrong with companies and organisations that think one big donation at Christmas will be the act of kindness that covers corporate social responsibility. Sorry folks, but that’s not the way it works. True giving involves commitment, compassion, and involvement. Hiding behind a checkbook is a tax rebate in my book, not an act of kindness. In all these campaign ads for Giving Tuesday not a single one asked you to donate time or to declare it pro bono day instead. Whatever it is that ails our fellow human beings requires humane treatment and humanity, not a bunch of zeros on a check.
I donate and commit to a charity when I feel like it and believe in the cause on a deep personal level, and not be bullied into doing so. There are more and more of these national XYZ days and International XYZ days that I can follow or care to recognise. Monday is Monday, Tuesday will continue to remain Tuesday – it is how you live each day on the basis of your own free will and values that matter, not what massive marketing campaigns demand that you undertake.