Shopping Local, Combating Consumer Fear, and Remaining Mentally Strong and Engaged

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Shopping Local, Combating Consumer Fear, and Remaining Mentally Strong and Engaged

With the holidays upon us, I want to encourage all of our readers to make it a priority to be supporting local businesses here in Omaha when you do your gift shopping, plan activities with family and friends, feed your staff or house guests, etc. Resist the temptation to do all your ordering online from out-of-the-market retailers. If you’re going to order online, choose a local store to do business with. It really makes a difference when we all do our best to keep our money in our own city and state. Just ask yourself if the convenience or saving a few dollars is worth the family-owned business down the street closing its doors for good.

The pandemic has discouraged many people from traveling and getting out of their homes to shop, dine, and seek out entertainment. This consumer fear is crippling our economy. We want to see people continuing to live their lives, even if life looks a little different right now. COVID has taken a toll on our retail stores, restaurants, and especially our hotels. We have beautiful hotel properties here in Omaha, and you don’t have to be from out of town to experience them. Why not plan a little staycation? Get a hotel room for the night and then go enjoy some of the shops, eateries, and bars nearby! Our businesses are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that we can still enjoy their services in a safe way, so let’s do that.

I also want to keep reminding everyone to remain mentally strong as we start getting into the colder months. Avoid outlets (and people) that are constantly stirring up fear. There are already more mental health concerns surrounding this time of year—the days are shorter and low temperatures make us want to stay inside. There is no doubt that the presence of COVID will heighten the inclination to isolate ourselves from others even more so during the winter. Many of us might have to say goodbye to a holiday tradition this year or will be unable to see family members who are choosing not to travel. That will be difficult, for sure, but we all need to do what we can to keep our spirits high. Take Vitamin D pills, listen to uplifting music, and remain engaged in life and relationships. Do not let isolation become the new norm. We were made for community. We were made to experience life together.

I heard this message a couple of Sundays ago from Pastor Brian Clark at Lincoln Berean Church. He addressed how it has never been easier to isolate ourselves, especially because of social media. At the end of the day, nothing can replace true human connection. Brian referred to a talk he heard by Sherry Turkle, and she was talking about a conversation she had with a reporter from the New York Times. The reporter told her that in this six-month period since COVID struck, one of the dynamics of how people have dealt with this deep isolation is they have flooded ChatBox to seek consolation and empathy in their hour of need. Now, just to be clear, ChatBox is not a person; it’s a machine—it’s artificial intelligence that is programmed to respond to you. So, in people’s hour of need, they are turning to a machine to find the empathy that they long for. That speaks volumes for what has happened to us as a culture, Brian noted. (Full sermon can be found online at www.lincolnberean.org, audio or transcript.)

More than anything, I think about the impact these cultural shifts are going to have on the younger generations. This is why I’m so passionate about spreading the message of how important real human connection is, along with remaining engaged in our community. We have to do what we can to support our local businesses and each other in a responsible way.

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