Congratulations America. You’ve taken the one holiday that was about simply giving thanks for the things we already have, and turned it into a bacchanal of shopping.
We no longer have Thanksgiving Day – it’s Black Thursday. (Damn you media for repeating that name until it stuck.) Yes, the holiday shopping begins on turkey day itself. Stores are asking their ‘associates’ to forgo their family dinners and football games so that they can sell a few more televisions.
Of course the stores wouldn’t be opening if there weren’t people shopping. That’s the problem right there. People are showing up. Just as they’re mouthing the words about how everyone should have the opportunity to overeat and get in an argument with racist Uncle Joe they’re pulling into the lot at the mall. If people weren’t spending money then the stores wouldn’t open. It’s as simple as that.
Of course there’s the guy on Facebook who said he was going shopping because there’s a movement encouraging people to stay home on Thanksgiving. “You know me… tell me I shouldn’t do something and I will!” Wow. What a simply awful person, a troll in the flesh.
Black Friday remains a shopping experience unto itself. An American Running of the Bulls, if you will. You better keep on your feet or risk getting trampled or gored by high heels. It’s no joke. According to the web site Black Friday Death Count there have been 7 deaths and 92 injuries associated with Black Friday since 2006 involving trampling, shootings, car accidents and pepper spray incidents. It’s every one for themselves when those doors open.
People are proud of themselves for acting like they’re in Pampalona, Spain, as the bulls are being released. You see video of frenzied shoppers racing down the aisles, being pushed from behind, fighting it out with their fellow human beings for an X-Box and this year’s ‘It’ toy. Dignity be damned, it’s all about getting ‘things’. Really, nothing says the reason for the season like an iPad for $399 or a 39” flat screen for $219. Closer my god to thee with a $29 Ninja Master Prep Professional.
So why do people end up in the mall or big-box store lurching about like the living dead bumping into each other, searching for brains? Because we amuse ourselves by spending money. We care more about things than experiences. Did we learn nothing from the Great Recession? Why are we still judging ourselves and others by the things we have? Too many people got behind the 8-ball trying to keep up with appearances, and instead of having learned a lesson about not needing so much stuff they’ve just been waiting for the chance to run up their credit cards again.
I’m not going to tell you that you can’t have your things. You can have your things. You want more things? Feel free to buy all the things you can afford. I’m also free to opine that fighting tooth and nail for a discount Netbook like it’s the last helicopter out of Saigon is pathetic.
Here’s the dirty secret about those bargains: If you’re looking for deals you’re an idiot if you go out shopping on Black Friday. An absolute idiot. With the exception of a handful of loss leader items per store that are gone in the first 5 piranha-like minutes everything else is available online, usually with free shipping.
Turns out people are figuring that out, and 2013 saw a drop in spending at the local mall, and a rise in spending online. It will be interesting to see if this year’s shoppers do the same. Note to online retailers: Stop trying to make Cyber Monday happen. The internet is open 24 hours a day and we all know it.
So why do people go to the mall with half of humanity on the day after Thanksgiving? Because it’s the physical and mental start of the high holiday shopping season, and a reason to indulge in gluttony and toy lust. It’s a chance to overspend, but tell ourselves that we got a good deal on it.
We have so much shopping to do that the average person needs an entire month to do it all.
It seems to me the need get so much stuff means we don’t have time to take a day to be grateful for what we do have. That’s a damn shame.