A whiny Christmas to all!

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The spirit of complaining about nothing

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

It’s that special time of year between Halloween and New Year’s where people start making a fuss about decorations and salutations. This year it’s no different. We are still over a month away from Christmas and already we have two notable controversies to discuss. And the funny thing is, science and religions are not even involved.

The one that received the most attention is the Starbucks “red cup” controversy. When it was first brought to my attention that Starbucks had released their annual festively decorated trash—I mean, disposable cups—I, like most people, didn’t care. Each year, the coffee retailer goes out of their way to design holiday themed cups, but this year all that was present was a simple coat of red. It was minimalistic, and highly offensive to some, apparently.

Starbucks, with an effort to stay politically correct and secular, decided that a simple red would be a modest choice for the brand. I agree. It is nice to drink from a cup that isn’t cluttered with clichéd designs. Honestly, I barely ever look at the cup anyways. Why would I? It would just remind me that once again they thought my name was “Alex.”

I hope that next year Starbucks uses the same stupid red cup. Or better yet, they should just stick with the white cups that they use the rest of the year. After all, white is a Christmas hue.

The second controversy is even more absurd. It involves one of the largest payment processors in the world, PayPal. PayPal is known to frustrate a lot of people, but not usually in such a ridiculous fashion as their new commercial did. In the UK PayPal ad, a couple of children are left saddened, anxious, and concerned when their parents aren’t bringing any gifts home as the holiday approaches. Snotty little kids worried about their gifts, how touching right? The twist in the commercial is that the parents weren’t carrying any gifts home, because they made online purchases and they were delivered without the children knowing—much like some Father Christmas guy.

Well, apparently PayPal broke the illusion for some British children. There is no Santa Claus! What I find interesting is that children are watching a PayPal commercial at all. Moreover, if your children are able to conceptualize the idea of digital payments, they are probably too old to believe in Santa. Although, the idea of invisible money does sound as fictional as a man who lives in the North Pole with a bunch of elves and reindeers.

What corporations need to understand is that they can’t please everyone this time of year. If you put up too many decorations and play too much Michael Bublé, people are going to be angry. Then again, if you don’t make an effort, you get chewed out all the same. I didn’t grow up with Christmas being a big deal, it just happened around me. I’m not religious, and as an only child I never really had a problem with presents. Christmas to me is a chance to get some rest and enjoy myself. The only thing I have to complain about during Christmas is that most stores and restaurants are closed. That’s the real bullshit!

Committed incorporated

Image from dockforiphone.com

Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 19 2013

Our questionable loyalty to businesses, products, and corporations

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

“Don’t buy lamps at IKEA,” my friend once told me. “It will look lonely in your house.”

I didn’t understand her profound statement or the personification immediately, but I soon understood. The lamp I had purchased looked out of place, awkwardly positioned in the corner of my room—yes, lonely. That was until I bought an IKEA desk and an IKEA chair to befriend it. Now my room doesn’t look half bad; far from the photogenic images in the flyers and brochures, but still respectable. Like dressing up in a suit and tie, my room, although furnished and appearing well-to-do, now lacks personality, originality, or any charm whatsoever. And it all started with a lamp.

Some advocate for companies the way we cheer for sport teams. Others are simply addicted. Over the years, I have developed a tight bond with Apple products. The story began with my first iPod, a green second-generation iPod Shuffle. I resisted the lure for many years, even though I was bombarded with advertising and recommendations. I had to find out first-hand whether or not it was a quality product, and although I have had MP3 players in the past, I now have an iPod. I was hooked. Several years later, I came upon familiar crossroads when the contract for my flip phone ended and I was due for a new one. I had all the choices in the world, but I went with old faithful: Apple. I once had a phone, but now I have an iPhone, and something tells me I will never have anything but. After all, it syncs so well with my MacBook Pro.

I’ve joined the herd shepherded by the big corporations, but is that such a bad thing? I know people who only order coffee from Starbucks and I know people who boycott it completely. Are loyalty or disdain for a company reasonable? We are creatures of habit and we find comfort in knowing that some things will always be there for us. There’s so much turbulence in our lives that it’s good to have some stability somewhere, even if it’s just sticking with Crest as the toothpaste of choice.

But it’s important to know that there’s a vast world out there. The only way for anyone to know what their preferences are is to try as many things as possible, and there are few mistakes more regrettable than settling. Exploration does not have to be an epic adventure. It can be as simple as making a different choice, such as ordering soup instead of salad, driving a Nissan instead of a Toyota, or shopping at Superstore instead of Safeway. Corporations, as evil and corrupt as they are, are still out to please you, so don’t be intimidated; embrace it.

Having a trustworthy, reliable brand is fantastic. In this materialistic world, life is not only about relationships between people, but also between consumers and corporations; when one finds the other, it is a true love story.