This is the introduction to 5 Days of Holiday Bull$hit: A five-part series on Christmas consumer crap. I’m into it, but not into it enough to cover 12 days of this spending mess. I’m not trying to be a song, thanks.
Unlike most people, I’m drawn to bull$hit. There’s a certain calm I feel knowing someone or something is full of it. It’s not that I feel superior upon recognizing the bull$hit, it’s more of a comfort knowing that perceiving the crap has removed all doubt.
History has proven the prevalence of bull$hit. I should know. I’ve studied (and passed) many a history course over my scholastic career, and most of my A+ essays were padded with copious amounts of the stuff.
I’ve also spent a decade working in office environments where bull$hit is shared freely at coffee stations, across cubicles, and in the boss’s office. This bull$hit may be passed as either corporate gossip or gospel — it doesn’t matter. Office bull$hit by any other name is still bull$hit.
I’m far from the first to delve into and define bull$hit. Others have pondered the craft well before me. The Urban Dictionary, “a website ostensibly created as a resource and a snapshot of the phenomenon known as urban language” defines bull$hit as “when a person is communicating through their ass.” Hey, it’s a start.
Philosopher (yes, philosopher) Harry G. Frankfurt did a number on us in his book On Bullshit, where he explores how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying.
Dr. Frankfurt writes:
“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it.”
That’s kinda sorta a load of bull$hit. Maybe I’m just “communicating through my ass,” but I think we’ve collectively lost the “ability to recognize bull$hit” around the week of December 25th. Our Bull$hit-O-Meters take a particular $hit kicking when the holiday season arrives (starting now in October), and continue flailing well into the New Year.
I’d like to be “confident” and tell you we’re all super smart and can “avoid being taken in by it,” but then I’d be bull$hitting you. Using history as a guide, we mostly revel in the fervor that is a retailer’s holiday bull$hit by buying into the annual spending spree (starting now in October), and we’ll do it all again next year.
So this short series is about holiday bull$hit. I usually take this time of year to write about thrifty gifts in a jar, Christmas decorations, DIY Christmas crackers, and frugally fun gift ideas disguised as ornaments — hello panties! OK, I’ve shared smart shopping tactics and other consumer savvy stuff too. But this year I’m firing back at the crap.
I’m taking aim at the bunk. I’m calling out the seasonal nonsense.
You can help identify the bull$hit too.
Tell me what bugs you most about the holiday consumerism that was Christmas, and I’ll promise to never send you any free crap in the mail.
Since Squawkfox is usually a bull$hit-free zone, this may be your only shot to gripe about how retailers grope your money every December (starting now in October).
I’m going to have some fun. And that’s no bull$hit.