As you may have heard or seen from the flood of media coverage, today is Black Friday — the traditional kick-off to the Holiday season's shopping frenzy, not the 1869 stock market crash. The retailer fueled drumbeat to instill mass buying hysteria should be particularly loud this year with the various negative national economic indicators putting Wall Street (and foreign investors) in a Grinchy mood.
Strong anti-consumerist that I am, I usually do my best to avoid contributing in any way to the commercialization that has hijacked this festive time of year. I stay far away from the mobbed shops and malls, and I keep the TV set unlit to stave off the barrage of jingly ads and the inevitable local news coverage of gift-rage stoked stampedes.
Of course, retreating into isolation with my fingers placed firmly in ears doesn't do much to reverse these social trends. My unspent dollar is a token gesture in the face of the onslaught of cash thrown at the objects of extravagant waste we've made the season's most enduring legacy. So, this year I'm flowing with the zeitgeist's wave and taking a different tack.
Rather than fighting the surging urge to spend, I offer up a better way to drop those dollars for holiday gift giving. It's an opportunity to double the impact of your present. Not only can you give a child you love a really neat laptop, but you can help contribute to improving the lives of the less fortunate around the world.
It's a program called Give One. Get One. and for $399 you can purchase the new XO Linux-based laptop for the kid of your choice and have another one donated to a child in a developing nation. The networked, wireless laptop has an innovative, durable design plus loads of cool applications, all built on an open-source foundation to encourage users to dig into the inner workings.
You have until the end of the year to take advantage of this unique offer from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation. The organization has a very interesting mission: "To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves." Giving kids in less advantaged countries the tools to learn, connect and contribute to a shared future is a good way to promote the true spirit of the holidays.