Home > Capitalism, Community, Economics, Network, Society > Unwrapped: Gift Giving and Influence

Unwrapped: Gift Giving and Influence

December 22, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The process of purchasing a gift is a complicated process. When we finally reach the check-out and exchange our money for an item we reach the culmination of a series of complicated maneuverings used to inform our selection. What begins as a simple question, “What should I buy him?” becomes a slippery slope of musings that reveal much about who we are, who we perceive our friends to be and the person we hope to present. A thoughtful gift is far more than just an item to make life easier: a shopper who sincerely seeks out the “perfect” gift ventures into a complicated maze of assumptions and compromises.

Our initial thoughts will focus solely on the receiver of our gift. We begin by wondering what the person needs, seeking out an item that can make their life easier. We have the best of intentions at this stage and see the list of potential gifts as endless. It is only in the marketplace that we begin to compromise and narrow down the list based on item availability, cost or the factors of our own life that affect our venture for the perfect gift. Even in situations where a perfect gift is found we begin to tweak our perspectives to the issue of what the gift communicates about us and develop ideas on the reaction of the receiver when this potential gift is received. Suddenly a simple process becomes an act of physical communication which extends far beyond the simplicity of the initial notion.

Gradually the receiver’s needs and wants becomes a secondary factor, replaced at this stage with our personal concepts of who we are and how we want the receiver to perceive us. We begin to look for an item that communicates the identity we project to the receiver of the gift. We see a similar behavior when we buy gifts for family, friends and colleagues. Each gift is closely tied to the person we aim to project. Our gifts become extensions of these identities and minor items loaded with important symbolic power.

Our gifts are projections of the identities we present to the world. Just like our gifts which are wrapped snug in paper disguises, we present a similar distorted perspective to the world. When our gifts are open we unveil both our selection and the perception we aim to transfer. Gifts are rich in symbolic power and function as a yearly reminder of who we are and who it is we want the world to perceive.

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