Christmas is just two weeks off . . . although the shops have been displaying Christmas goods since September (and, in some cases, August). Christmas lights have been switched on - and in one English town, at least, there were complaints at the poor quality of the display. One of our local superstores has already run out of Christmas trees. People are replenishing their drinks cupboards, parents are spending huge sums on whatever the latest craze is that the kids are demanding, and numerous presents are being bought that, once Christmas is over, will be consigned to the bottom of a drawer or advertised for sale in the local paper.
Now, I am not a Christian, so I'm not coming at this from a faith-based angle. But, even so, I find all the commercialism of Christmas rather sad. Yes, it's great to buy presents for those you love . . . but somehow each year there seems to be a compulsion to spend more and more. And giving things isn't the only way to show love.
Because, as a non-Christian, I believe that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of someone whose mission was to bring more love into the world. I'm a great admirer of the Salvation Army whose idea of a good Christmas is to ensure that lonely elderly people and homeless people have a hot Christmas dinner and a happy day, feeling wanted and cared for.
And I'm also a great admirer of the entrepreneur Andrew Reynolds. Not because he's a self-made multi-millionaire (although that, in itself, is admirable) and not just because of his enthusiasm in encouraging others to follow in his footsteps. But simply because he is a great philanthropist and works tirelessly for charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Make A Wish Foundation and has helped many people in South Africa to achieve a better standard of life that, without his help, would have been unattainable.
But there is no doubt in my mind that internet marketing can encourage greed . . . think of the marketers who sell worthless packages, or who don't offer a money-back guarantee, and the retail companies and eBay sellers who sell substandard goods. There are so many people trying to make a living through the internet, there is so much competition, that I feel that it's very easy to lose sight of what it's all about. Because, as one of my other marketing 'favourites', Armand Morin, always stresses, it's not just about making money, it's about providing value.
And so, when I'm feeling jaded about the internet, it's good to be reminded of how it can bring people together and make life easier. And when that reminder has a Christmas theme, so much the better. I first saw this YouTube video last Christmas and loved it then. Not everyone does, and if you don't like it, then I apologise. But if you haven't seen it, please have a look at the Digital Story of the Nativity.