Thanksgiving was yesterday, so many of you are reading this on a smart-phone, in the freezing cold, outside of a local mall, in a massive line, moments before a mad dash for gardening tools you never knew you needed because you don't have a garden. Or even worse, you already went shopping instead of enjoying Thanksgiving (apparently Black Friday starts on Thursday now).
For better or worse, Black Friday has become a uniquely American tradition; storming malls and consumer electronic stores while committing regrettable acts, blinded by a mob mentality. The increasingly violent nature of Black Friday has become commonplace enough to warrant a website, Black Friday Death Count. The toll currently stands at 4 dead and 63 injured since the day unofficially became America's pastime five or six years ago.
The cause of this violent phenomenon has been attributed to everything from the Great Recession to the fundamentals of a free market. While the debate on whether or not human nature or big-bad Walmart is to blame, the option of simply not participating altogether continues to escape the masses. So I'm proposing an independent-minded approach to Black Friday, which is to not observe it at all.
So why should one not contribute to the crass consumerism that has become Black Friday? It's not because it will have a discernible impact on Walmart's bottom line. Here are the top-two reasons why one should spend Black Friday in the spirit of Rebecca Black instead of Conrad Moffat Black:
Chances are you won't 'save' anything
If you're going to expend all the time and energy of: waking up at 2 am, finding a parking spot, waiting in line, fighting off a random stranger, and then finally purchasing whatever item you may have wanted in the first place; you're compelled make it worth all the hassle.
Only there to get your Christmas shopping done early? But wait, there's a toaster for $5 and a new pair of pants for only $10 and that iPhone case looks pretty cool and it's only $3... Before you know it you've spent twice as much as you intended and have a car filled with things no sane person would buy under normal circumstances.
In many cases, stores will advertise one or two big-ticket items at a steep discount (of which they only have a few dozen in stock) but only marginally mark down consumer goods that are actually worth purchasing. By the time 99 percent of shoppers are in the door, those products are long gone.
It's important to remember why businesses manufactured this holiday in the first place. I doubt it's because they're intrinsically altruistic entities and cutting into profits for one day is their way of saying thanks.
Participating in Black Friday directly contributes to someone's misery
As a former customer service representative, it's no secret that every employee shoppers interact with today is one insensitive comment away from a complete psychological meltdown. Even if you're the nicest, most affable Black Friday shopper in the mob, your mere presence contributes to the rage boiling inside every employee's soul.
If you value the reduction of human suffering, as I do, abstaining from the chaos of Black Friday is the only way to ensure a 'conflict free' holiday season.
Photo credit: wyrk.com