6 November 2018
Black Friday is a time of sales and riots. Avarice and envy.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is a time where companies unload merchandise that they no longer want to clear room for new stuff that will ultimately be sold at a massively reduced price the next year on Black Friday. The annual purging and gorging is a strong metaphor for our culture, but our participation in it only works to reinforce evils that we would do better to forget.
We have created a tradition of consuming material goods. People treat participation in Black Friday as an experience.
According to consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, Black Friday serves as an ingrained tradition for families and friends.
People spend the day off together, and instead of watching TV they go out to spend money they likely do not have on things that they do not need.
Black Friday has made it so that spending money on a specific day is a form of entertainment. Letting that idea sink it makes it easier to see how the dystopian futures of “Wall-E” and “Idiocracy” are possible. In “Idiocracy,” people become so devoted to their commercial overlords that they stop using water to grow crops and instead use a sports drink full of salt, because they are told that it is what “plants crave.”
In reality, we truck out in the freezing cold after feasting the previous day —before the sun is even up — to wait in lines to buy things that people told us that we want while we switch between glazed over, far off stares and rabidly fighting each other for material junk.
Fights break out at Black Friday every year. In 2016, a brawl broke out in front of the JCPenney at a mall in Modesto, California. In 2014 at a Walmart in Houston, four people piled on top of a TV to claim it. In 2008, a worker at a Walmart in Long Island was trampled to death as Black Friday shoppers smashed through the store’s front doors.
But people have to get their discounted TVs, right? Their cheap, slave-labor clothing?
When our culture participates in Black Friday, we reinforce these evil behaviors. We tell people that cycle of consumption is okay.
Wanting things and buying this is perfectly reasonable, but our creation of a new holiday where we worship the consumption of material goods makes us all worse for it.