Opinion: Consider choosing smarter gifts over traditional supernatural zombie consumerism.

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The holidays transform some consumers into consumer zombies. The North American Christmas season is the heartbeat of the retail market, a pulse that signals and draws the mobs of mindless, shuffling throngs of mindless consumers. Christmas is the stuff zombies nibble, burp, cough and silently trip into a sugarplum holiday turkey coma*. For zombies, it's the season when they decide what others would like as a gift. How did this zombie culture evolve?

I recently received a superconscious gift, the book Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behaviour. Spent was written by Dr. Geoffrey Millar, a clinical psychologist. His team did a study on how modern consumerism is linked to psychological fitness signaling. The study was replicated, and I won't spoil the results, but basically it demonstrates how men and women consume in a few different ways. It demonstrates how younger folks consumed versus more mature consumers. There is science behind consumerism and children. This was an excellent gift! Superconscious! I learned something scientific and learned more about the consumer, and as a green products designer that grows my design knowledge.

Gift giving starts young and is taught. First by receiving free stuff, then by the act of giving. “It is better to give than receive.” - a formative first guilt trip after getting lots of free stuff? I'm kidding! Gift giving can a beautiful act when it is done naturally. Seems the fixed single date aspect of Christmas, or the week-long gift-fest tradition of Hanukkah. These cultures have evolved gift giving into a task, more than a natural gift. Gifts can be lots of things and this is important in my message. Some gifts are better than others.

We must buy different gifts for different people. Gifts for your love, your family, friends, acquaintances, work friends, staff, and your mechanic. Gift giving can be done well. It can also be done poorly. Some try to make gift giving a competition. A competition of fitness signaling. Some are passive-aggressive with their gifts, some are just plain amazing with their gifts.

After one has everything, what do you give them? My advice is a gift that is an experience, or something like my book on consumerism! A thoughtful gift. Handmade gifts, goodies are always special. The past few years we have been making donations to women's shelters on behalf of others, as a gift. A few years ago I asked people make a donation to Wikipedia, on my behalf. Creative gift giving can the best fitness signaling ever! 

Send a positive signal this holiday. Make something special or give something special. Perhaps donate some money to Syrian refugees on someone's behalf, it might grow their heart and inspire them to become superconscious and give an amazing gift.


* - turkey coma isn't really real!