You heard me correctly. Black Friday needs to die, and not a slow, painful death, either. It needs to be taken out like it's freaking Alderaan in front of the Death Star.
Why all this hatin', Ari? You're asking yourself. Why don't you just stay home and let everyone else enjoy Black Friday instead of grinching about it?
That's the thing. I can't stay home and simultaneously not deal with Black Friday anymore. That possibility does not exist. Where once Black Friday passed me by like the green, Cecil DeMille-style Passover hand of doom, it's now in my home, bleeding across my Internet, bleeding across my television set, figuratively grabbing me by the throat and demanding that I get my butt into town and buy something. And in the paraphrased words of Twisted Sister, I'm not gonna take it anymore.
Here are seven reasons why I think Black Friday needs to die:
1. It's the only way businesses can capitalize on Thanksgiving weekend, which is both cheap and pathetic. Everybody is off from work and school, enjoying the company of family and good food. That makes Thanksgiving the quintessential money-making opportunity. Problem is you can't exactly tear people away from family and gratitude without pulling out all the stops, and that, my friends, is exactly what businesses do. Sometime in the history of consumerism, someone thought it would be a great idea to create a Frankenstein of a holiday that would lure people from their homes with bright colors and big percentages. Hence the hasty and crappy creation of Black Friday, the worst "holiday" there is. Black Friday needs to die simply because it's a heinous attempt to get vacationing consumers to spend money.
2. That being said, it's blatantly marketed manipulation. If you shop on Black Friday, I hate to say it, but you're being manipulated. Black Friday takes complete advantage of the fact that human beings do stupid things just to prove that they can come out on top. Exhibit A: that one time my sister was making fun of me so I smashed a slice of Caesar's pizza into her face to have the last laugh. Black Friday marketing makes you think you need things that you don't even want on a normal day. Five years ago, my mom, sister, and I went to Old Navy on Black Friday. I left with a cardigan that was the very last one on the shelf. To this day, I have only worn that thing twice. Why did I buy it if I wasn't going to use it? Because all Black Friday is is one massive double dog dare and a bet that you can't walk out of a store with something that everybody else is trampling strangers to get their hands on. It's manipulation at its finest, and I, for one, do not ever want to feel manipulated into buying something.
3. Why would anyone find it appealing to wait outside in a line for hours with complete strangers on Thanksgiving night just to be herded into a store like cattle and then crammed into narrow aisles on your way to grab a gift which you will then have to wait for two hours to buy, forcing poor employees who depend upon their jobs into dealing with the selfish and impatient antics of you and everybody else around you who, instead of standing up for their right to spend the holiday with their families, prove that there's money to be gained in exhausting employees Thanksgiving night? Couldn't keep up with that sentence? It's probably because it embodies the chaos that is Black Friday. It is utterly unappealing to me. Perfect holiday shopping, to me, is to mosey through a quiet store where I have time to think wisely about my purchases and not be pushed into buying something I don't need; it also doesn't create an environment where I'm inclined to be a complete idiot to an employee who doesn't deserve that. Better yet, perfect shopping is buying online. Maybe even buying months in advance so you're prepared. Heck, any shopping where I don't have to deal with people usually appeals to me, which is why Black Friday makes me feel like vomiting.
4. Black Friday deals aren't really deals. Think about it. I don't know much about economics, but this conclusion makes sense to me. Most of the time, stores are getting rid of old merchandise by marking it down, which, after taking inflation into account, doesn't push the cost down much lower than it would have been in a healthy economy. So basically, by being seduced by the allure of said deals, you're choosing to spend more money than you need to on items which will be embarrassingly outdated the next year -- that would be no big deal if it weren't for the fact that businesses will still consistently convince you to go out and buy the next new and soon-outdated version of the thing you bought last year and the year before. Case in point: Apple, which, incomprehensible to me, somehow manages to maintain a cult following while consistently outdoing itself and subsequently ripping the same people off year by year. Given, we can't do a whole lot to help the economy, but we sure aren't proving our frustration and disapproval of our Congressmen or the Treasury Department who do nothing to improve it by being complacent about inflated prices. In fact, it's more like we're saying, "I'm a sucker who will continue to spend money for something I can't afford and don't need." And maybe that's why we have a government that does the same.
5. The thing that bothers me more than anything else: Black Friday is the perfect antithesis of Thanksgiving, which is why I hate it. One minute we're making public (and, admittedly, somewhat contrived) efforts to express our gratitude for things that money can't buy, and the next, we're shoving strangers out our way to score a deal on a piece of crap object that will be outdated within the year. It's the most ironic and hypocritical setup I've ever heard of. It just makes gratitude look shallow and artificial. If we're truly grateful for what we have, why do we spend a holiday weekend of thanks battling for what we don't have and getting angry when we don't get it? Black Friday is the greedy and dark side of the holidays, and, conveniently, abuts the only holiday of gratitude we have left which hasn't had its true meaning commercialized into the ground.
6. It makes selflessness selfishness. If you're not shopping for yourself on Black Friday, you're shopping for your family's Christmas, which is a beautiful, lovely thing until you realize that businesses use that to get you fighting in a store Friday morning for anything and everything. And frankly, if you're going to shove strangers, steal objects out of peoples' hands, and latch onto gifts under the premise that you're "just trying to get your child/aunt/mother something they always wanted for Christmas," you're being a poor example of a selfless human being. A truly selfless act is to treat strangers kindly. Additionally, Black Friday fosters a weird kind of pride. You're not glad to make someone happy by getting them what they want. Instead, you're just glad you got it before anyone else. Black Friday convinces you that you are some kind of knight who fought for and saved the inanimate damsel in distress for your loved ones. It makes Christmas, then, less about those you're giving to and more about the way in which you scored the dumb gift.
7. Finally, Black Friday turns human beings into monsters and customer service nightmares, and I want nothing to do with it. First of all, if you plan on shopping on Black Friday, you're planning on putting yourself into an environment that naturally brings out the worst in people, and you need to acknowledge that it's partially your fault if that trip doesn't go as planned. Secondly, it is not fair to take out all of the pains of your imperfect shopping trip (which will inevitably be imperfect) on people who rely on being there to feed their families or people who are there to buy things just like you. It really isn't. It isn't okay to shove aside people to get what you want. It isn't okay to scream and cuss and grumble when you don't get what you want. It isn't kind or in any way appropriate to add to the reason why employees have to be pulled from their families on Thanksgiving and then treat those employees like they aren't worth your time, when you are, apparently and inconceivably, worth theirs. It isn't humane to break out into violence over objects that will never make you happy long-term, nor is it in any way justifiable for you to make irrational demands upon or get angry at employees who, unlike you, didn't have much of a choice to spend time away from loved ones. Black Friday turns human beings into the worst versions of themselves, the ungrateful, angry, impatient versions of themselves. Anything that does that to a person needs to be checked, reformed, or stopped altogether, because it seems nearly impossible to get people to control themselves on their own. Let's be honest: human beings can be rude. Why perpetuate that?
Black Friday isn't some family trip to Disneyland. It's an eye-opening glimpse into the emotional and social health of our nation. Maybe, then, it isn't Black Friday that's the problem, but the way we treat items and human beings in the 21st century. If we can get over our self-entitlement and greed, we may have a Thanksgiving weekend where we not only say we're grateful, but truly act like it, too.
Labels: rant, thoughts