Don’t believe the Blue Monday propaganda

Iona Bain

Plunged into a pit of doom and despair, just because it happens to be just another Monday in January?

Don’t be. I know it’s grey, wet and what we Scots like to call a bit “dreich” outside. And yes, January is a bit of a prolonged downer following the fun and frolics of Crimbles. There are no significant dates in the calendar to look forward to, save the overpriced Burns suppers and ceilidhs that we Scots have to attend by law – only a non-stop stream of meetings, commitments and work, work, work, work, work (like that very annoying Fifth Harmony song that doesn’t appear to have a beat. Or melody. Or harmony, ironically.)

It’s even harder if you’ve signed up to an array of punishing New Year resolutions and/or Dry January without quite realising how mind-boggling tough it was going to be. Ah, you already look ruefully back on January 1st, that more innocent time when you planned to make 2017 the year to CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER, Tony Robbins-style.

It doesn’t help that Twitter, both the great augmenter of ego and destroyer of self-esteem, has been hijacked today by a bunch of very clever marketing companies who cottoned onto the fact that Blue Monday sorta became a thing in recent years, and so is a burgeoning “phenomenon” (I use that word very loosely) that can be cynically anticipated and used to round up bloggers, vloggers and anyone else who’ll accept a buck to promote something online. Voila! You have a slick but ultimately phoney campaign aimed at alleviating “the most depressing day of the year.”

Let’s get this straight – Blue Monday is NOT the most depressing day of the year. Some might say that this should be reserved for 14th February, or when Donald Trump takes office…for me, it will be when one of the Chuckle Brothers pops their clogs. I know Blue Monday is increasingly posited as the depressive cousin of the more manic Black Friday. After the frenzy of pre-Crimbo consumerism, New Year FOMOitis and desperate January sales, you would think that retailers would give us all a rest for a couple of weeks. But oh no. Even boredom can be monetised. After all, boredom is the most powerful feeling for companies to harness. When we can be duped into feeling “bored”, we can be induced to buy and believe in all kinds of things that might momentarily spice up our lives. Holidays, TV subscriptions, tickets, beauty products…you name it.

Online shopping will give us a short, sharp burst of endorphins that lasts about as long as Blue Monday itself. We set ourselves up for a fall if we put our faith in items, experiences and purchases to brighten up our lives, as they can never really live up to our heightened expectations. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a bit of self-indulgence and “treat yo-self” thinking if we can balance that out with perspective, real contact with real people and a sense that “this too, shall pass.” But if we look to cheap flights as a substitute for other less instantaneous but more effective triggers for real happiness, we really do create ourselves a Blue Monday…and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday (we chill on Sunday).

Furthermore, I would argue that we’re not really feeling bored and gloomy. Many of us young people are actually feeling rather relieved to have some time off from the incessant pressures surrounding the festive period, and welcome a bit of peace and quiet to get on with things. We aren’t necessarily expected to be somewhere, having a marvellous and magical time, taking pictures for Instagram’s benefit.

If we do manage to achieve any real moments of contentment, peace or even (dare I say) magic in January, they will be all-the-more enhanced by the knowledge that we’ve been ordered by the social mediocracy to stay indoors, be thoroughly miserable and shop our tiny minds out just to get through the month.

If you can take pleasure in the simple things, you really are winning. So don’t believe the Blue Monday hype; it’s just another desperate marketing exercise designed to stir up irrational feelings about a arbitrary date to provoke spending which, as a solution to life’s bigger conundrums, never really gets the baby a new bonnet.

If you only buy one thing this Blue Monday, do yourself a favour – get your copy of Spare Change for real perspective for your finances.


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