11/11; 11:11? Singles Day? Alibaba? Lets Practice Good Buying Instead!

Image courtesy of  The Handsome Hansons Blog .

Image courtesy of The Handsome Hansons Blog.

There were two opportunities yesterday for you to make a wish at 11:11 on 11/11. I had originally planned on scheduling this post for one of those moments yesterday, but did not. Sorry! That doesn't mean you still can't follow the superstition/belief of the 11:11 phenomenon.  Even though it's not 11:11 on 11/11, I'm posting this on 11:12 of 11/12, another sequence of numbers, the day after.

Ahhh, let the superstitions continue...

While driving yesterday morning, I heard a segment on WNYC about Alibaba and Singles Day. I thought to myself, what in the world is Singles Day? And then I was educated.

Singles Day is China's Black Friday and their Anti-Valentine's Day. And it happens for a week, with a large culmination on 11/11. The holiday was originally called Bachelors Day and was created in the 90s, but was taken over and reinvented by Alibaba in 2009 as a play on Bachelors Day. Alibaba released the figures for sales, and they made $9.3 billion dollars and shipped 250 million orders. Staggering, eh?

Alibaba, for those of you scratching your head, was founded in 1999 and is a Chinese e-commerce website (kind of like Amazon and/or ebay) where consumers and businesses can buy goods directly. They also provide electronic payment services, a shopping engine search and data-centric cloud computing services.  It started originally as a portal for Chinese manufacturers to connect with overseas buyers. Last September (2013), the company sought an IPO with the United States; they debuted on the market in September of 2014. They are now looking to enter the market in India.

The name Alibaba was picked by current Chairman and founder, Jack Ma:

One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said, "Do you know about Alibaba?" And she said yes. I said, "What do you know about Alibaba?", and she said, "Alibaba and 40 thieves". And I said, "Yes, this is the name!" Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, "Do you know Alibaba?" People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China … they all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So … easy to spell, and globally known. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name "Alimama", in case someone wants to marry us!"

I find this important because of the symbolism. If you know the story of Alibaba, he is a poor woodcutter, who finds an entrance to the cave of treasures and enters with the secret phrase "Open Sesame".  It is a tale of caution for those who lie, cheat and steal. It is also an amazing story of success for those who are good-hearted and with "pure" intentions. I don't want to ruin the story for those of you who don't know it. As is the case of any legend/fable, it is a classic story of good versus evil, with good the victor.

The idea that a person can have the same experience as Alibaba when he finds the cave of treasures through an e-commerce website troubles me. Now, before you jump down my throat and say, well Etsy is a kind of e-commerce website. I want to acknowledge that you're correct, but Etsy puts you in touch with craft makers, skilled experts, and passionate artists (for the most part). The goal of Etsy is to have you buy quality goods from real people. It's why this blog and the Etsy NY Team exists - we are real people, who want you to have an "Open Sesame" moment, but with handmade, creative awesomeness - not high volume manufactured goods.

So what about 11:11? And how does this tie into this post?  Well, to some (many), it symbolizes angels, or a spirit presence letting you know they are around you. I personally like this post on the idea/significance of 11:11 - "In my opinion and what resonates with me, is that when you see ‘11:11’ whether on a clock, a license plate, your bank statement or wherever you happen to see it, is like a friendly little sign from your soul, source, higher-self, or the entire Universe, whatever you choose to call it, God, if you will, that everything is in alignment and you are exactly where you need to be, right here, right now."

I don't mean to be hippie dippy on you here, especially as this isn't my personal blog, but I am after all the environmental writer, so this kind of makes sense. Anyhow, I see 11:11 and all other sorts of numerology references all the time - 12:34 for example - and I believe in them. I don't know that I've thought of 11:11 as an angel presence, but I always think of someone near and dear to my heart and smile and acknowledge it and feel thankful for all I have and all that will come as I continue my journey.

When I heard about Alibaba and their "Singles Day" and it mentioned as a shopping day to rival "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday", I got overwhelmingly sad. Sad because if we take a day like yesterday, which to some (or many) has a spiritual/magical/happy/mystical significance and turn it into another day of consumerism, what are we left with? Can't we have a day, or days, that isn't, aren't', affiliated with shattering markets and over-spending on material possessions that don't mean anything? Why can't days like Green Friday be more prominent in our culture? And why does there need to be an Anti-Valentine's Day? Can't a person be single and proud and not need to spend money to prove it?

As an Etsy seller, artist and crafter that prides herself on handmade goods and the deep consideration that goes into each of my products, I'm upset that a day like today makes news for some unnecessary holiday, or for selling an obscene amount of goods that are not only wrecking havoc on our environment, but our health too.  You are more of a force than you may think. Every time you open your wallet, you are sharing your values.  We small business owners appreciate you buying handmade and local goods, even when you're tempted with Singles Day in China and any other marketing ploy to buy.

I'm getting off my soap box now. As an end, I'm just going to wish you all a happy, magical and connected day. It is 11/12 and today at 11:12PM, you have one more chance to make a wish for whatever your heart wishes. You can also make that wish at 11:11 and 11:12, just to have an extra. May you also feel here and now in the moment, as well as whatever positive energy heads your way and bestow it on those you love and use it to impact change.