It’s that time of year again when TV news stations fill holiday A-blocks with a dozen stories on Black Friday, the day where America’s frightening obsession with rampant and gratuitous consumerism pervades a holiday weekend while acting as a bellwether for the country’s economy.
While I love “saving” $10+ on gadgets and stuff as much as the next person, I annually avoid Black Friday lines, deals and madness.
Here is a taste of what I strive to avoid at shopping centers, malls and big-box retailers. (Hats off to the greedy seniors who conquered that escalator.)
To be honest, I’m not the sort of person who consumes more than I have to, unless we’re talking about beer, brats or baked goods. So perhaps I’m not the ideal person to discuss the supposed thrill of seeking out hot deals mere hours after the Thanksgiving turducken has gone cold.
Still, watching the annual coverage of Black Friday gone bad worries me to my core. What kind of world cares so much about consumer goods?
Modern American Kula ring
Black Friday madness is a particular type of groupthink, and it seems awkwardly based around a confusing notion: If I rush out and spend a bunch of money, I will save a bunch of money.
In some ways, spending that money becomes a physical manifestation of the love we have for those closest to us. You don’t have to read — or give/receive — Marcel Mauss’s The Gift to recognize why people feel compelled to offer relatives items as tangible representations of their feelings.
But you do have to consider the modern American Kula ring as a manipulated means to a profitable end for big business. Black Friday was the original crowdsourcing; the original FOMO. Companies — and, to a larger extent, any entity that benefits from high consumer confidence and big consumer spending — created their own holiday and have now fudged it a few hours forward so that wage workers everywhere don’t get to relax with their families on Thanksgiving night.
For that, and so many other reasons, I can’t bring myself to participate in the price-markdown madness that has reportedly caused seven deaths and 98 injuries since 2006.
I’ll wait 24 hours and gladly consider supporting Small Business Saturday instead.