Is it safe to leave my apartment yet? Are the mildly to extremely unstable people done shopping?
Black Friday. While wars, poverty and countless other tragedies take hold of people around the world, America has dedicated an entire day to senseless consumerism.
Thank you, Google. Preoccupation doesn’t quite cut it for this national shopping day. It’s a celebration. A tradition. A custom of consumption. Consumption preceded by consumption. It’s not enough that you’ve spent a day stuffing your mouth with more food than you typically consume in a week. No, no. Just about the time you begin to feel food literally punching you in the stomach from inside your intestines, you think, The only thing that can possibly make me feel better right how is to increase my credit card bill. And off you go.
Folding chair and blanket in the backseat, you’re ready to wait in line for hours outside of Best Buy for that 42″ flatscreen LED HDTV marked down from $499 to $199. You’re too entranced by the temptations of the retail giants that you don’t realize how resentful you should be of them. Their markups are so high that they can still make a profit when selling you that TV for $300 less than they usually do. You’re not getting a deal. You’re being shown how ripped off you are every other day of the year.
I actually considered going out this year to simply observe the chaos. I’ve never set foot in a retail store on Black Friday. But I’ve heard the stories. We’ve all heard them. Man trampled just inside Target doors. Woman maces other shoppers in her greedy path. Two-dollar waffle iron riot telling of Americans’ values. It seemed to me that anyone going out in this madness should be prepared to defend him or herself. A helmet and a bubble-wrap blanket seemed to me sufficient shopping armor until I thought better about it. I could see the store security video footage already. One look at a short blonde girl wrapped in bubble wrap, helmet on tight, and other shoppers would whisper to one another, See that one? She must be weak. The next minute all you’d hear is POP, POP POP, POP, POP POP POP, POP POP! So much for that bubble wrap.
Just the term Black Friday is terrifying. There is no color quite as gloomy as black. In fact, it was given that name for that reason. In 1966, Philadelphia police gave the day that name because of the overwhelming traffic and disorder caused by holiday shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. But over the past nearly five decades, brands have turned the day into a frenzied fight to the checkout line in hopes the holiday music and door buster deals will disorient you enough so that you don’t realize how much money you’re needlessly spending.
Yes, all this coming from a girl who works in advertising. An industry where people aren’t people. People are consumers. And brands try to convince them the little disposable income they have is better spent than saved. And we wonder why our society needs so much help. America, the consumerist nation.
I’m not suggesting I’m innocent here. I won’t sit by and pass judgment on others without turning the finger on myself. I enjoy shopping as much as the next 20-something trying to stand out in a crowd of cuteness. I bargain shop for $10 scarves, but justify $80 boots. But that’s pushing it. It’s a rare occurrence that I spend nearly $100 on an item. Something that’s a common practice for some. Even so, I’m still guilty. I’m a consumer. I could blame it on being a product of the culture I was brought up around. But I won’t. I’ll plainly admit that I do a shitty job of practicing self-control. Most of us do. This is why Black Friday exists. All of our small actions contribute to a nation of debt-burdened people uninhibitedly drawn to bright red “Sale!” signs.