Show how much you care about yourself


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.

Five Holiday Tech Purchases to Avoid This Boxing Day

Formerly published by Techvibes. 

Holidays and bargains go hand-in-hand these days. Shopping has become a tradition, but that shouldn’t mean aimlessly picking up every discounted item in the store.

With technology, we must recognize the good deals from the products that will inevitably be obsolete in a couple of years—maybe less. Here are some notable technologies that might not even be worth re-gifting this year.

1. DVD Players: Your DVD collection, the white elephant in the room. You have found yourself packaging these ancient entertainment relics along with other gift for friends and family this year—you know, as a joke. Yes, we remember the Great War between Blu-rays and HD DVD. Now the war is over and there is peace this holiday season—DVD is dead.

But that doesn’t mean your complete collection of The Sopranos is garbage: you can still play DVDs on your computer and gaming consoles. Be wary about buying Blu-ray as well; physical entertainment is at a crossroad. Many are choosing the path of downloading and streaming. But perhaps DVDs will make a come back like vinyl—though don’t hold your breath.

2. Low-level Digital Camera and Camcorders: I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you have a smartphone. And through that skillful detective work, I am also guessing you are capable of filming and taking pictures with that said smartphone.

The popular Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera and the iPhone 5S has an 8-megapixel camera. By this time next year, don’t be surprised to see all standard smartphones with fully capable cameras to take selfies with. The Nokia Lumina 1020 has set the standard for consumer camera/phone with their 41-megapixel camera.

There is no reason to buy a point-and-shoot camera or camcorder anymore, unless you want to entertain a child—even then, they might have caught on already too.

3. GPS: If you are buying a GPS, you’re obviously already lost. There was a time when we were paranoid about the government knowing our whereabouts—now it’s a little alarming if we can’t Google Map our way out of a suburban cul-de-sac.

Smartphones have built in GPS that are as reliable as any store-bought portable GPS and newer vehicles are equipped with built in navigation systems as well.

4. Fitness Trackers: Love it or hate it, fitness trackers are now officially a thing. This popular trend has taken our health-conscious culture by storm—but where exactly is this storm? Fitness technology often operates with an initial burst of motivation. New Year’s resolution: you’ll get back in shape. But odds are by March the fitness tracker you bought is hidden in your sock drawer where it can’t shame you.

Before you commit to this purchase ask around, I bet you already have a friend who has an abandoned fitness tracker they will happily “lend” to you. Give that a test drive. Moreover, the iPhone 5S’s M7 motion co-processor functions as an effective fitness tracker all on its own.

5. MP3 Player: For too long MP3 players have lived in the shadows of iPods. Few can compare itself to the iPod Classic and its 160 GB of hard drive or the functionality of the iPod touch. Any MP3 player purchased at a discount price will have a limited hard drive—you might as well stick with the music playing function on your smartphone.

Consumers are beginning to seek out all-in-one options with their technology. We want our devices to behave like a Swiss Army knife. Saving room is the theme of this holiday season and especially when it comes to our wallets. There are a lot of fantastic new stuff this year, so don’t get caught up in the bargain basket. Have a happy holiday.