Picture it, Facebook, last week. You’re scrolling through your newsfeed when you see your dad has posted yet another conspiracy theory about the vaccine, and you wonder if you should respond or keep scrolling. You don’t leave a comment, but in your head, you are fuming and have already thought up about 50 witty responses.
If you concluded that you’re going to cross your dad off your holiday shopping list, then rest assured, you’re not alone. According to a new study commissioned by Coinstar®, a whopping one in eight adults has said that they will not be buying gifts for family members who don’t share their views on Covid or the vaccine. If the world felt polarized a year ago, the surge in Delta cases combined with a stubborn refusal from half of the country to get the vaccine has made the current mood feel much darker.
You might recognise the name Coinstar® from their self-service coin-counting kiosks across the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Every year, the company commissions a survey among Americans to get a finger on the pulse of consumer appetites. The company asked 2,007 American gift-giving adults questions about their spending habits and some of the results are pretty interesting.
- 39% report not being able to afford to purchase as many gifts this year as they did last year due to being out of work or working for less pay.
- 59% said that they don’t have a budget this year. That figure is down from the reported 67% who said they had budgets pre-pandemic.
- 68% said they would rather get cash or gift cards than a physical gift this year.
- More than 52% of survey respondents said they are likely to use spare change from around their house to buy gifts. According to Coinstar®, the average American home has $123 in spare change kicking around the house. In 2019, the average amount of change was $70.
- 28% said they would likely re-gift this year, and they don’t feel as bad about it as they might have pre-pandemic.
- 13% or 1 in 8 said they would not give gifts to friends or family who does not share their view of Covid or the Covid vaccine. Yikes!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some folks are cutting ties with family members who are on the other side of the great political divide. In a recent headline story, Gayle King told Dr. Anthony Fauci that she plans to ban unvaccinated family and friends from her holiday plans, including her Thanksgiving table.
She’s not alone. As I look around the social media landscape, I see plenty of status updates from my friends and acquaintances who are openly picking fights with one another. Arguments are breaking out about stances on wearing masks for Halloween trick-or-treating, getting kids vaccinated, or even comparing perceived ostracizing for refusing to take the vaccine to the horrors of the Holocaust.
As I read this latest news about how Covid has warped relationships (and common sense), I can’t help but wonder if maybe this holiday season will be an opportunity for everyone to step back and reassess how we treat one another.