I made a mention of
When the person to whom the initial tweet was directed learned what Buy Nothing Day was, she said, "People come up with the stupidest things." And all I could think was, "Yeah, like lining up at 3 a.m. to buy crap they don't need and that their kids will stop playing with by February." I didn't say it, because frankly, I'm not anti-consumerist, and really my problem with Black Friday is that few things make me as uncomfortable as giant signs and throngs of people fighting over the last t-shirt or toy. My day after Thanksgiving is usually spent emptying the dishwasher's fifth load, hanging with the family, and avoiding the mall, though buying a meal or coffee or admission ticket isn't out of the question.
There's moderation in everything, isn't there? People who aren't doing the buy everything thing and who aren't doing the buy nothing thing?
It's the same dichotomy issue we're having with our (de facto) two-party system in the U.S. In 2004, Republicans won the White House and both houses of Congress. And so they spent two years making the moderate middle angry, and in 2006 Democrats took over Congress, and with a Republican in the White House, nothing got done. That changed in 2008 when a Democrat took the White House, and then earlier this month, after two years of making the moderate middle angry, Democrats lost control of the House and now nobody's talking compromise.
The past six years of U.S. politics are a tighter cycle than we're used to, but it's a cycle that we are, in fact, used to. And it's going to lead to a long cycle of government accomplishing something that annoys just over half the country for two years, then nothing for two years, then annoying just over half the country (with a different outlier composition) for two years, then nothing for another two years.
No one ever has to build a coalition. And no one gets to claim success for more than two years at a time.
Dichotomy is not the way things get done. Humans are not an either-or species; there are shades of gray, and worse (or better), we change our thinking. Unfortunately, it's easiest to express, in language, everything in an either-or fashion.
Democrat or Republican. Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day. No carbs or no meat. Writing for search engines or for humans. Paper or plastic.
When we think outside of language, we'll think outside of dichotomy. And that's when progress happens.