What’s at play, one may infer, is that the “human” in human being is enjoying something of a revival. Too much of everything has spawned a backlash manifested in a preference for simplicity. The impulse to acquire celebrated by an older generation has given way to an appreciation for what one has among younger people. This may be a function of generally having less to spend, but something less prosaic might also be at work.

The frantic immersion in material gratification symbolized by Black Friday is the precise opposite of spiritual connection or interpersonal engagement. The person fighting a neighbor for a laptop or powering past a pregnant woman for first dibs on a stroller probably isn’t bothering to make eye contact, much less consider the other’s well-being. Thus, the lure of the small town or the farm may be seen as an existential rejection of the anonymous life one often experiences in large cities. Just as some find the city essential to a rich and varied life, others seek escape from the grind of the white-collar factory and associated disassociations.