E-commerce and lonesome shoppers celebrate Singles’ Day in China
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Nov. 2013
While Canadians spent November 11 paying respect to those who fought for our country’s freedom, China celebrated the joys of bachelorhood with Singles’ Day. The holiday targets those without boyfriends, girlfriends, or life partners. Even though it might sound like a hoax to those lonely individuals, Singles’ Day is becoming a very popular event in China—a country burdened by the bachelor generation, the direct cause of the one-child policy introduced in the late ‘70s.
Instead of pouting, whining, or crying, the Chinese singles have found a silver lining to their pathetic situation. Singles’ Day is now officially one of the largest shopping days of the year, and if there is a country that is able to buy happiness, it might as well be China. Although in previous years the holiday has slipped North American retailers’ radar, this year they jumped at the opportunity to reach out to a loveless audience. And what an audience it is: in a single day, the world’s largest populated country spent approximately $5.7-billion.
Dreamt up by some college students in the ‘90s, Singles Day is an upsetting concept to many Westerners, including myself. Materialism is, above all else, an addiction. Most shoppers will tell you that they often feel a high when they make a purchase, especially if it was something they really wanted. They pay for it, bring it home, and bask in the euphoric sensation until the product gets old, collects dust on a shelf, and is ultimately forgotten.
Sure, online shopping comes with a bit of novelty—the product you purchase arrives at your doorstep weeks after you order it, making it a surprise present to you from someone who cares. I think this very concept is poison, and the fact that the Chinese are promoting this cultural behaviour will be a devastating blow to their social morale. But if we know anything about our beloved friends to the east, they don’t care much about a healthy population as long as the economy is prospering.
The fact that Singles’ Day exists is fine with me. There should be a day to celebrate those living an independent life, the same way there’s a day to celebrate those in romantic relationships, i.e. Valentine’s Day.
But singles, why must it be a day to selfishly reward yourself for accomplishing nothing? Being alone is nothing to be proud of—anybody can be alone. Buying gifts for yourself might be a short-term solution, but I pity your life if Singles’ Day is the holiday you look forward to each year.
Celebrate and party with other single friends, and rejoice in the fact that you are not tied down, but don’t allow big e-commerce companies to take advantage of your egocentric nature. Have some control, my dear lonely hearts of China, and stay strong; your prince will one day come for you and your new PS4.