Black Friday: when everything is on sale…except civility

Two hundred twenty-five million people spent eleven billion four hundred million dollars.

Sadly, it is true.  Last year, 225,000,000 people went shopping on Black Friday, and $11,400,000,000 was spent nationwide.  And it is only going to get worse from here.  This year, experts predict that sales will grow by 3.1 percent.  This translates into one in three Americans shopping on Black Friday.  Not only do we have Black Friday, but we also now have Black Thursday, which typically begins in the evening on Thanksgiving.

And I, as many other Americans do, ask myself…what is this madness?

The first Black Friday was certainly not like this.  Many people trace the holiday back to the first Thanksgiving parades that were sponsored by department stores, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924.  The day after the parades, the stores were allowed to start advertising Christmas sales.  This unfortunately has led to the misery we call modern-day Black Friday.  Because one day was essentially set aside as the beginning of holiday shopping, the day has been hyped up more and more over the years to the point where it has exploded and become the largest, most ridiculous, and most violent shopping day of the year.

There are several reasons why Black Friday is not a good day to choose to go shopping.  For one, people get easily enticed into spending more than they should.  The discounts are never as good as they first appear to be.  That is not to say that this is a problem for everyone.  Some people take advantage of the discounts without going overboard.  Because they spend their money wisely, they save money, and the day serves its purpose.  However, most people do not have that kind of restraint, which makes shopping on Black Friday counterproductive.

Of course, there are also the crowds and extremely long lines.  This is where the question of whether time or money is more valuable should be asked.  Saving money is awesome, but I would rather spend more as opposed to wasting time.  I know that I, at least, do not have the time to stand in lines all day waiting to purchase items or even to get in stores.  And then there are always those people who camp out before the stores even open.  Sigh.

Undoubtedly, though, the most unfathomable and heartbreaking aspect of the equation is the extreme cases of violence.  Every Black Friday, stories about out-of-control stampedes, in addition to the occasional shootings and stabbings, surface and are covered extensively by news stations.  Americans are well aware of all the violence.  Yet it does not seem to be enough to deter many people from shopping on Black Friday.

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People are even killed on this day.  And what for?  This is over silly shopping discounts.  You may not think it could happen to you, but I disagree.  For instance, in 2008, I guarantee that the 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death as well as the two people who were fatally shot at a Toys ‘R’ Us had not expected to die that day, especially not under such circumstances.  Black Friday is responsible for too much violence, and this sickens me.

Those are just a few reasons why shopping on Black Friday is a horrible idea.  It is definitely not worth it.  When deciding if you will go Black Friday shopping this year, consider the temptations of spending more than you had intended to, the crowded stores and extremely long lines, and the unthinkable violence and tragic deaths that the day gives rise to.

Instead, think about participating in Black Friday alternatives.  If you are interested in saving money, Cyber Monday, which is essentially the on-line version of Black Friday, offers incredible discounts.  This also allows you to avoid the crowds and long lines.  Or, you could accomplish this by doing your holiday shopping earlier in the month of November.  Best yet, both of these alternatives are violence-free.  So go ahead, and shop away!  Just be smart about it.


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