When people don't consider the costs they exert on others, a negative externality exists. For example, in Walgreens last night, shoppers would stop in the middle of the aisle to look at an item. They didn't consider that I was right behind them. So by attempting to maximize their utility, they diminished mine.
This isn't a new observation. Ronald Coase is credited with this observation and has a theory:
COASE THEOREM: A policy proposition, developed by Ronald Coase, that pollution and other externalities can be efficiently controlled through voluntary negotiations among the affected parties (polluters and those harmed by pollution). A key to the Coase theorem is that many pollution problems involve common-property goods that have no clear-cut ownership or property rights. With clear-cut property rights, "owners" would have the incentive to achieve an efficient level of pollution. This theorem states that it doesn't matter who receives the property rights, so long as someone does. Pollution can be reduced through voluntary negotiation by assigning private property rights to common-property resources. If common-property resources are privately owned, a market in property rights can be established. Owners then have the incentive to protect the quality of their resources.My thoughts are many and diffused. The holidays are meant to bring comfort and joy, yet this comfort and joy doesn't come without a cost.