With Cyber Monday just a few days away, the world is abuzz with activity. Delivery bots are being prepped and charged, fabricators are being fueled, and folks across the globe are getting ready to party.
I'm sure you've immersed yourselves in advice on how to refine your search algos to find those hard-to-get, hand-crafted, premium items or how to optimise your credit expenditure this season. So I won't bore you with yet another article on those subjects.
This year, I've decided to write something different. This year, I'm going to take you on a walk down memory lane.
In the distant past the world didn't celebrate Cyber Monday in the way we do now. Back then, our most important consumer festivities occurred in late December, and went by a number of different names, depending on geographic location or religion. Preparation for these festivities typically lasted months and what's fascinating to note is that back then people voluntarily spent large percentages of their annual income on gifts for friends and family, and for feasts, which were consumed during the period of celebration. It has been recorded that, during the early part of the 21st century, during peak decadence, households in parts of the world were spending as much as one quarter of their annual income on these once-a-year festivities.
As consumerism matured, sub-cultural traditions emerged to support the buildup to these winter festivals. One of these sub-traditions was known as "Black Friday". During the early 20th century, a nation known as The United States Of America declared "Black Friday" the official first shopping day of "Christmas" (the name for the annual winter celebration practiced in that part of the world). "Black Friday" fell on the day immediately after another long-gone tradition known as "Thanksgiving" which is said to have originated as far back as the seventeenth century, and involved a day of feasting (humans feasted a lot back then). During "Black Friday", as strange as it might seem, consumers traveled to special locations (which were also called "stores" or "shops" just like the online versions of today are) to physically purchase goods. The appeal of "Black Friday" was heavily discounted pricing - it provided consumers an opportunity to obtain more goods per unit of currency than on any other day of the year.
The tradition of discounting items was eventually banned after annual death tolls from consumers fighting over cheap products rose to unacceptable levels, most notably in the United States of America. The Archives have some interesting footage from this period that's well worth a watch, if you're interested in understanding the psyche of our ancestors and their primitive ways.
With the advent of interconnected networks (our archives suggest the terms used back then included "The World Wide Web", "The Internet", and "The Cyber"), online consumerism was born. And with it, the beginnings of our own Cyber Monday celebration. The original concept of Cyber Monday was created in the early 21st century as an accompaniment to "Black Friday" - a day during which online retailers discounted goods in order to encourage consumers to shop in preparation for their winter festivities. As the world moved away from physical stores and towards online shopping, Black Friday was forgotten in lieu of Cyber Monday.
As I mentioned earlier, winter festivities of the past were largely centered around buying gifts for others. So how did we end up dropping that tradition? The transition from gifting to buying for ourselves came about during peak decadence. During a time when everyone had everything they ever needed, society collectively stopped buying each other gifts and instead exchanged store credit vouchers and eventually just plain currency. People stopped spending their earnings - they had given up on buying goods for others and weren't even buying for themselves. The yearly economic boost that had occurred every winter for over a century rapidly started to subside, year-by-year. Countless businesses bankrupted after each passing winter festivity season. Eventually the government stepped in. Now we have guaranteed global economic stimulus that happens like clockwork every year. And what's even better is that it's a reason to pamper ourselves with luxuries and things we never knew we needed.
While doing research for this article, I found some interesting facts from The Archives. Years ago, before consumers were used to the concept of enforced economy stabilisation, Cyber Monday adverts included the slogan "Use it or lose it". The phrase eventually disappeared. Nowadays we've optimised heavily for Cyber Monday. Nobody wants unspent credits from their Cyber Monday reserve donated back to the government. Thankfully we now have algos that optimise the use of every last sub-credit.
Another interesting piece of trivia - during the transition, there were people who opposed the concept of Cyber Monday as we know it today. The number of people incarcerated under the Federal Opposition Act for speaking against or not participating in Cyber Monday is said to have be in the hundreds of thousands, included in this count were people who laundered their reserve money out of the system.
But here we are, just days away from the largest global celebration of the year. Cyber Monday is our modern day version of those old winter festivities from yesteryear. I, for one, have been browsing the ScoMart catalogs for some time already and, as far as what I have my eye on, those retro-style auto-gyro copters look quite appealing. But that's probably my mid-life crisis speaking. As much as I'd like to cruise the neighborhood in one of those, I'm going to honour the traditions of the past and surprise my wife with a gift this year. I hear those new cognitive emotion sharing units are going to be a big hit, and I know she's planning on purchasing something else. It'll be fun to see her reaction when she receives a gift ‒ I wonder what that feels like?