This is a reprint of an article I wrote regarding Black Friday back in November of 2011. I wish I could say that things have changed for the better, but it only has gotten worse. We now have pre-Black Friday sales, Black Monday, Black Thursday. It is a great symbolism using the term Black, as there is a dark ugliness in all this consumerism. Myself, I do not take part in Black Friday. I think it is sick and twisted. People get all worked up like lemmings, clawing and beating each other for their prizes. Capitalism is a sick disease, a real cancer on the world. Too many are too blinded by greed and lust for things to even see.
From 11.2011 World Wide Hippies article:
I really wanted to blow steam the other day, but I have held off to this point. While I do allow my emotions to guide my writings, I felt the negative emotions that were flowing because of all of the negativity and lack of heart in the world was too much. I feel that if you want to get a point across, the worst thing is to posit f-bombs. Unfortunately, that is state I was in. So I gave time for those feelings to subside before I decided to write my weekly column.
Now one of the things that has been grinding on me is the inhumane way we treat other human beings. All the attacks on the social nets that help people to manage through the tough times, especially at this time of year, goes up my spine. People are more concerned about someone else getting something they aren’t that they want to cut the safety nets. They want to force those who have fallen on hard times to have to have drug tests despite stats showing that a small percentage actually fail the tests and of those some are false positive. Never mind the cost to taxpayers to pay for those tests. Now I was all worked up over things like this and constantly shaking my head at man’s lack of heart and soul, when all the Black Friday frenzy started.
Now Black Friday is really becoming a joke as they keep trying to get the jump on it. So some even have pre-Black Friday sales. This year we were told that some companies were taking their workers away from their families on Thanksgiving in order to open Thanksgiving night rather than the 3:30a time frame they had done in the past. Many, especially here in Massachusetts where they weren’t allowed to open before midnight, waited until midnight. Little regard was given to the employees and whether they wanted to be with their familes. Now, granted, some of my friends did say that they didn’t mind working since they didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving, but for most, they would have preferred to go to bed.
Okay, let me share the voice of someone I know who had to go into work. He texted this to an online service while standing in the store looking out at the line outside the store waiting for them to open the doors.
“Seriously, everyone standing outside the store, do you not know what sleep is? Or how amazing a warm bed feels? No cause you missed out being with family yesterday to sit here waiting and to pull me away from mine for your stupid crap.”
Do people really know the affect that their blind consumerism has on others? This person would have loved to be able to sleep in after a full day spent with relations on Thanksgiving, but because corporations don’t give a shit about employees and only the bottom line, they and others like them, had to go in. Of course, then you have those who get the day off and don’t care about others, so they want to be able to shop. I got into a debate on Kohl’s Facebook page last New Years over their opening. On the one hand, I was attacked by people who actually believed that this nonsense was going to save the economy and that I was unpatriotic. Yet another said that the workers needed to work because they needed the money. That argument has some value since most of these places pay such low wages that many also have to get Food Stamps or some other assistance to make it. We won’t even get into how many keep workers at part time so that they don’t have to pay health insurance either. The worst was one woman who told me that her family was watching football and she was bored so the stores needed to be open so she could go shopping. Really? She was bored so she expected other people to leave their families on the holiday and go to work.
Have we really gotten to the point where we are creating a class of people that work for near nothing but are expected to be at our beck and call? Have we really lost all heart and soul?
Now let’s look at this Black Friday obsession. Corporations pushed to be able to open early to get a jump on the Christmas season. Of course, this creeped and creeped until now, in some areas of the country, they are actually opening Thanksgiving night. Pulling employees away from family and friends to go serve people who have nothing better to do. The obsession is stirred even more with the need for things. Marketing ramps up at this time to ensure that the public is whipped into a consumer frenzy. In this way, they can guarantee that these people will be banging on the doors at 3:30 in the morning or sooner. So what happens, lines form outside the store doors with people eager to grab those few items that the stores put on special. Often times with insufficient inventory to cover this demand. Which leads us to the next part, the ugliness.
The Kohl’s ad summed it up best. The girl goes through the store singing the Black Friday tune. As she passes this one woman, she reaches into her cart and takes the other woman’s stuff. This is the attitude that some have. As long as they get what they wanted, they don’t care about anyone else.
While in many cases Black Friday sales go off without any real issues, there are often problems. As of this writing, I have heard of two deaths at a Long Island Walmart. One was an employee who got trampled by the mob of people storming the doors when they were opened. The other, a pregnant woman who was banged about during the mad rush. She miscarried the baby. I can only imagine the horror that she is going through. Here she was expecting a wonderful Christmas with expectations of a new life joining them, instead she loses her child. In LA, there was a mad rush, I hear for limited supplies of Xbox 360’s. Someone tried to jump the line and another customer whipped out some pepper spray and let loose. The ensuing chaos caused eight people to be injured. This is the extreme ugliness of consumerism. That got to have mentality that causes human beings to denigrate into Neandrathals beating each other.
The thing is that there is absolutely no reason for this. Saying that we need to do this to save the economy is utter hogwash. When I was a kid we had blue laws. Stores couldn’t even open on Sundays, let alone holidays, but yet, we had a robust economy. This is purely about corporate greed. People say that they go because of the sales, but why can’t these sales be done during normal store hours? Why pull people away from their families on holidays or from their beds after a long day with family?
People have bought into this nonsense. This was all done just so stores could open more hours to increase profits. Yet, what do the people really get? Oh they get something at a discount price, but that same item could have been discounted during normal hours. Do we really need to churn up a mob mentality that can end in violence and death? Personally, I will have no part in it. I refused to take part in Black Friday in any form.
I think we really need to think about why we are doing this. This is supposed to be a season of joy and giving. I don’t think that causing injury to others or causing the death of another is in the spirit of this season. I have to wonder if the person for whom this season is named, were to come back at this time, what would he think of us? Our inhumanity to each other? Our blind consumerism? Our greed? Please, if you do nothing else for the remainder of this season, take a few minutes and truly contemplate what has gone on with Black Friday and what corporations are doing. Do we really need to get other people out of bed at insane hours just to buy something that we have a whole month to buy? Couldn’t stores just have these sales during normal hours?
Frankly, the way I see it, is if everyone else is basically saying that other people have to go to work when we have the holiday just to serve us, then do away with holidays. Maybe when this affects the masses instead of just the poor clerks and stock workers that are forced to work, then things will change.
In the meantime, I am going to be looking at my local shops instead of the big box stores. I want to put the money into my community instead of corporate execs pockets. Maybe some gift certificates to local restaurants. Gift certificates for oil changes. Local artisans goods. I’m not buying into the unbridled consumerism.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.