There’s a popular info-graphic floating around Facebook that says, “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Sounds a bit ironic, doesn’t it? Sadly, it is all too true.
This year we don’t have to wait until the next day for the sport of standing in line, pushing, shoving and trampling others that get in our way of that penultimate prize, the super-sale item that is so hot right now. We can start the festivities on Thanksgiving Day, while we are still full of cheer from our festive meal!
So why do we, as otherwise intelligent and thinking people, engage in this idiotic behavior? A large part of the reason is founded in our modern culture of consumerism. This culture was largely founded by the partnership of mainstream media and corporate marketing and says that in order to be happy, we must buy stuff. It doesn’t really matter what we buy, only that we must buy or we simply cannot be happy. Or successful. Or whatever else is important in our lives. This is the sum of our economic system today: buy things. This is the foundation of the ridiculousness that is Black Friday.
Compounding this is the marketing messages we are subjected to: buy things at this wonderful sale or you will lose out. If you aren’t in line at 11pm Thanksgiving night for the midnight opening, you won’t ever be able to buy at this price again. Never mind that you just might not need what is being sold; you will be a loser if you’re not there. Ignore that fact that the sale is false – 60% off of a 300% markup on something that will be broken, out of date or out of fashion in 3 – 6 months, if not sooner.
What to do about this conundrum? Very simple; don’t participate. Yes, I know, how in the world will you live another moment knowing that you weren’t one of the first in line for half off Blu-Ray players, or buy one get one free cargo shorts? After all, it very well might bankrupt you to pay regular sales prices the very next day! Abstaining from participating in the madness might do a few things for you. It might give you some time to sleep in, have a relaxing breakfast and spend some time with your family or friends. You know, those people that you text, instant message, Pin to their boards with recipes and ideas for the bathroom, along with “like” and comment on their walls. Those people.
Another option that has been ignored until lately is shopping locally. If you absolutely just have to get out there the day after Thanksgiving and spend money, then go see your friendly neighborhood Mom and Pop store. They will most likely also have some sales on things that can’t be found at the big box stores, along with a smile and a warm welcome.
The online world will also be patiently waiting with no lines, shoving or trampling. There might be the same junk on sale, but there are also some jewels to be found. Sure, you might not be able to take your plunder home right now, but you won’t have cost some employee their holiday, and you will get to enjoy your treasures twice; once when you buy them and again when they arrive at your door in a few days, with no lost sleep or black eyes.
Staying away from the malls and Wal-Marts will give you the smug satisfaction that you haven’t been instrumental in forcing someone to give up their holiday in order to ring up the must-have worthless material purchases that are killer deals for today only. It validates the idea that there are some things that are more important than consumerism and material stuff, things, toys and gadgets. Opting out of Black Friday may give you more than just a few more hours to enjoy some quiet time with your family. It just might give you a little more humanity.