Today, I suppose, I should really go out and start looking for Christmas presents for people. I have no idea, at all, what anybody wants; no idea what anybody needs; and no idea what I’m going to buy. I know what I’m not going to buy, though.
On the way between our house and the local library, there’s a bus stop, and as bus stops tend to, it has a space for advertising on the side. And at the moment, the advert is nothing more than: a giant picture of a lottery scratchcard. With a slogan something along the lines of: “The ideal present for Christmas”.
Now. Just wait a minute. No. No, it isn’t. Excuse me for wanting to rant, but a lottery scratchcard is, in so many ways, just about the worst Christmas present imaginable. If you can think of worse ones, please let me know. Never mind a gambling ethics debate, it’s wrong in so many other ways. It’s small, flat, hardly anything to unwrap, no box to shake, no wrapping paper to tear off with abandon. Its entertainment value lasts for all of, ooh, about 3 seconds. It’s completely thoughtless and says nothing at all about the recipient, the giver, or anybody: it has no emotional or personal value whatsoever. And, finally, the chances are that it’s valueless: a piece of litter. It’s less use as a present than a sheet of wrapping paper. Or a stick. If I was given one as a present, I’d be crossing that person out of my address book straight away. And then hire assassins. Maybe I’m not the target audience for the advert, but there’s no way in hell that a poster is going to persuade me that buying a scratchcard for someone is a good plan as a present for them. What on earth would it say about me, for one thing? That I have so little imagination that I’ve bought them, ooh, a coloured piece of paper with that silver rub-off stuff on it.* Because a poster said so. Because that’s how brain-dead I am.
So, no. That’s not going to be on the shopping list, at least.
* What the hell is that stuff, anyway?