|Opinion: What Has 'Black Friday' Become?|
According to the Washington Post, more than 17 percent of the American population was expected to sacrifice family time or pass on the turkey entirely in order to go shopping. Stores used to open their doors dawn of Friday morning in earlier years, and then midnight in recent years. Now, stores, such as Wal-Mart, have started their deals at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving evening to increase sales and revenue. This has cut into people’s evening meals and get-togethers, forcing bargainers to choose between great deals and great memories.
However, an alternative to trampling through stores has emerged that allows consumers to find the balance between shopping and family. Online shopping increased 20.7 percent this year with smartphones accounting for 16.3 percent of total shopping sales (Trend Hunter). The Apple iPad was the most-used technological device, reaching 10 percent of all online shopping. Smartphones and other mobile devices have made shopping easier and more accessible for those who either want to pass on the adrenaline rush of running through stores or who cherish the precious moments of Thanksgiving festivities with family members.
Even though they may be distracted by hunting for deals on the internet, I personally would rather have that family member present than abandoning for a bargain. It’s not only consumers that Black Friday affects. Employees must miss out on their own family festivities as well. Target employees started an online petition against Target stores opening at 9 p.m. Labor protestors gathered outside a Wal-Mart to condemn their labor practices (The Washington Post).
Like other holidays, Black Friday has a designated date every year. CNN contributor Bob Greene states that this so-called holiday exists “solely to sell merchandise.” He continues: “It celebrates nothing; it commemorates only itself.” In contrast to other holidays, Black Friday, along with Cyber Monday, were created by retailers and embraced by consumers. If we did not embrace this day, it would not exist.
In the past, it has caused unnecessary and depressing deaths. In 2008, a Long Island Wal-Mart employee was killed in a stampede of customers as he was unlocking the doors to let them in. This year, a Wal-Mart shoplifter in Georgia was detained by employees as he was leaving the store. The employees put him in a choke-hold type position and ultimately caused his death (The Christian Post).
Many other incidents have occurred including pepper spray, fist fights, etc. Why do we disregard others’ lives in order to save pennies on a meaningless object? This is what consumerism has done to humanity.
So the question remains: is Black Friday ultimately worth it? It seems ironic and contradicting that as the economy worsens, the total amount in sales and revenue of stores increases year after year. It is possible that this is helping America come out of recession, but those who cannot afford such luxurious things spend more than they have thus resulting in deeper credit card debt, etc.
Black Friday deserves its name entirely. It has caused deaths, debt and disregard for others, our selves, and our families. The consumer has been consumed by consumerism, but it looks like this misguided holiday will be around as long as people have money to spend.