I have always had somewhat negative feelings about the annual shopping ritual known as “Black Friday” (aka BF). Years ago my feelings were only in the “mildly annoyed” category; sort of a “why would anyone want to do that?” feeling. Some of that was because I’ve always been a little bothered by the overspending we do to celebrate Christmas. So the BF thing just seemed like an extreme version of the already out-of-control Christmas shopping.
I was also always annoyed at the complaining people did about it. They talked excitedly about their little BF shopping excursions and planned for weeks in advance, looking forward to the adrenaline rush of it all. I didn’t get it, but I didn’t care if they participated in it. But what bothered me was when these same people who planned for it, EVERY YEAR, always complained EVERY YEAR about how crowded it was, as if that was some kind of surprise.
But now, I think I’ve moved past being annoyed by Black Friday to being actually against it. I think it’s wrong. It peels back yet another ugly layer in the already distorted way we celebrate Christmas. I’m close to calling the whole Black Friday tradition actually immoral, and it wouldn’t be hard to make a case for that, but I’m not there yet. Maybe next year.
Personally, I don’t care whether Wal-Mart workers have a union, or whether they go on strike. And I don’t really think Wal-Mart cares about the strike either; there are plenty of other people who need jobs, and they’ll just hire some of those people. People who, by the way, probably know by now that Wal-Mart, like other big retailers, generally has big sales that begin Thanksgiving night, and they may have to actually work then. They knew the deal when they signed up.
So here’s the thing. It’s easy to blame Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy or any other place that has gone overboard with the BF sale. However, they’re not the problem. The problem is in us. We’re the ones who have gone overboard. The problem is in our obsession to buy more and more crap, so much crap that we actually line up days in advance to save a few dollars on said crap. So much crap that we push other people out of the way, and argue about whether we were in the store by 10:59 and not 11:01, so we can get the best crap deal out there, by golly, because it’s Jesus’ birthday and he would want us to have as much crap as possible so we can remember him during this time of the year.
Since the problem is with us, what if we just cut our spending in half this year, and what if instead of workers going on strike, SHOPPERS went on strike and just refused to buy as much? And what if we refused to go to the stores AT ALL on Thanksgiving night, and try to wait a few more hours to buy our crap?
Of course, the retailers will continue to move the opening times up earlier and earlier, until they’re actually serving Thanksgiving breakfast, lunch and dinner in the parking lots while people shop all day Thursday. But eventually the retailers may get the hint, if people will just stop buying. It is a market-driven business, after all.
Well, as you can tell I probably won’t go shopping this weekend. I think it’s moved from being quirky and odd, to annoying, to frustrating, to almost immoral. Maybe not immoral, but close.