Black Friday: Consumerism at its Best. People at their Worst.

Posted: November 24, 2011 in General
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I shop at Walmart. A lot.

I know I’ve been a little MIA on all fronts the past couple of days, but things have been crazy around here and I’ve noticed a sudden flux of ideas for short stories. It’s been really nice, and I’m definitely running with all of these thoughts in my head.

Anyway, a lot of people have been posting what they’re thankful for lately and, given the holiday, I can understand that topic. However, I’d like to push forward a day (which is in approximately 45 minutes as I write this) and focus on something else entirely: Black Friday.

I think the idea of Black Friday is a great one: reduce prices and clear inventory. For people without a lot of money (like me) this can be one day that you can go out and get a lot of your shopping done. For all of us procrastinators out there, it is also an incentive to get out early and actually get something done before December 24th (been there, done that).

But I have two problems.

One:

People. People go crazy over Black Friday. Like, literally. I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone of the stories we’ve heard over the years about the competition between shoppers or the injuries that people get while they’re out shopping.  Check out this site for the 13 worst: http://www.ranker.com/list/13-most-brutal-black-friday-injuries-and-deaths/john-barryman. It’s no laughing matter. People die because of this.

I think it is so sad that we as a nation have done this to ourselves. I think people only believe in Christmas, in Thanksgiving, in the Holidays on the surface. They say they know what the holidays are about, that they think family comes first, that it is the thought that counts. If these videos are any evidence, though, things are quite to the contrary. I’m sure that not everyone is like this, but even the small amount of people shown in those clips is more than I’d like to imagine to have forgotten what the holidays are actually about.

Look, I love shopping as much as the next girl. I’ve gone out on Black Friday and have faced those crowds. I like deals and I like getting things cheap. But this is ridiculous. I just want everyone to slow down and realize what they’re doing to themselves and what they’re doing to their children. Teach them that the Holidays aren’t about getting the best toys, but that they’re about keeping your morals at your wits in a world that seems to be slowly losing both.

Two:

Stores. The first part of this is about the prices. I was flipping through the ads today and saw things like boots (only $50!) and TVs (only $299.98!). Okay, I realize that they are 50% off, but those prices are still expensive. I also realize that between the advancement of technology and inflation, prices are going to soar. But, seriously? I’m surprised anyone can afford these things with the state the nation (the world!) is in. To me, Black Friday seems pretty pointless if I still can’t come up with the money to buy anything I see in the advertisements. I got all excited when I saw movies on sale for .99 cents. How are they even making money off of that? Then I realized that they make money off of it 364 days a year when they charge us 100x what it costs them to make the things…

The second part is about the marketing. My mom and I today were talking about the holidays today. She remembers that Christmas used to be sacred. Kids never knew what they were getting, advertisements weren’t splashed across the TVs like they are today, and the commercials weren’t so ridiculous. It was a time of seriousness, of sacredness, of closeness. The media and commercialism has always had a strong hold over the world, but I think it is high time they realize that they have the power to steer the world in a better direction, one that brings us back to times when it didn’t seem like the world was so crazy.

My point? Slow down. Realize what you have and what you need. Realize that you can teach your children something that will mean a whole lot more to them than a toy they’re going to forget about this time next year.  My mom always told me that it isn’t the amount of gifts you get, but the thought you put into them. The Holidays are a time when we are supposed to emphasize what our friends and family mean to us. It’s not about presents, or money spent, or time taken. It’s about knowing them and knowing what they need from you – and sometimes those things just aren’t tangible.

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Comments
  1. Joanna Aislinn says:

    Excellent post. Black Friday: I’m home, winding down after a wonderful day with family. As a kid, you couldn’t get milk on a ‘big’ holiday–NO STORES WERE OPEN. Besides all the above you described, Black Friday is now messing with Thanksgiving, a day to simply be with family, friends (and food, of course–maybe even some football). I’ve always felt badly for folks whose choice to work on what was a sacred day is taken away.

    I know what you mean about the prices, too. Wouldn’t mind picking up a laptop for each of my kids, but steal-deals or not, not happening this year.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • I’ve always enjoyed the idea of the country turning off and turning inward as everyone was “trapped” inside with their families and enjoying the holiday. Now I feel that some people are forgoing that (well, more like cutting it short) for the shopping season. That isn’t what this season should be all about.

      Thanks for the comment!

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