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Lockdown has taught me that without being able to pay for things and to exchange money for something, then deep down many in society don’t know how to spend their most valuable asset, time. Those who were lucky enough to retain their jobs or have furlough money coming in were cast into a situation that they were unfamiliar with. They were granted more time.

When we were asked to stay at home and save lives, the number of parcels arriving into people’s houses went through the roof (along with Amazon’s profits). People who consumed before were now given more time and more money to spend. Savings from not having to drive to work or commute on a train created a glut of extra cash. As a society we are generally very bad at saving money for a rainy day, so the only answer was to spend.

The old maxim spend money on experiences not things was made harder. We were unable to go out to events, to concerts, restaurants and on holiday. So we were left with more disposable time. Instead of using this time to learn a new skill, read more, get physically fit, and cook, social media instead reported a tidal wave of gluttony, alcoholism and consumerism. Was this really how the general public dealt with adversity?

I’ve always detested the idea of shopping as a pastime. The fleeting buzz we get from buying something is exactly that, fleeting. Scientists have proven that the chemicals that are released when someone exchanges money for goods (particularly clothing) are momentary, and within a few hours or days they disappear. This wasn’t always the case. When my mum was young, she often tells me how they would get a new outfit at Easter and one at Christmas, if they were lucky. Now children are being bought (or are buying for themselves) new outfits like sweets, with very little thought to the environmental impact or the lessons we’re imparting upon their young minds about consumerism.

We have seemingly forgotten where our money came from. If, like most, you earn money through a job, you have exchanged your time for that money. You cannot get back your time, your time on earth is finite. And yet we live in a society that your time is held in less regard and cherished less than money.

I hope we look back on 2020 and at the times when our freedoms we took for granted were taken away and realise that it was a blessing, a time to reflect on the things we should value the most. Not how much money we can earn and spend, or the number of outfits we own, or how we should be teaching our young different lessons about gratitude and consumerism.

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