The World According to Humphrey

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The dark side of black Friday.

Posted by humphreysworld on November 28, 2010

Anyone who has known me for more than a day knows that I love a good deal. I don’t eat meat, but if someone offered me a subscription to Omaha Steaks, I would take it (and then sell it at a higher price). It’s not just the thrill of getting a good deal, it’s, well, it is the thrill of getting a good deal. So every year, I get up at a criminal hour, list in hand, and head for the stores to get my holiday shopping done. There is a strategy to this; there are lists, logistics, gps coordinates- I don’t fool around. But as much as I, and nuts like me enjoys getting a good deal, there is a disgusting side to Black Friday. And it says a lot about our culture of consumption.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the frenzy of black Friday taken to an ugly level. A Voldemort level, a Palin-trying-to-sound-intelligent level, if you will. On Friday a woman was arrested for threatening to shoot people in line when she was trying to cut in front of others at a Toys-R-Us in Wisconsin. Is anyone else disturbed by the that she’s a mother?? This my friends, is not normal behavior. And in New York, Target shoppers were actually trampled trying to get into the store this past black Friday. Two years ago, a security guard was stomped to death by shoppers busting through the doors at Walmart. Does anyone really need a $15 DVD player that bad?

This type of behavior is simply disgusting. Our culture has a propensity towards over-consumption, and the animal-like behavior displayed here is proof positive of that. Retailers know it and pray/prey on it. People stand in line for HOURS waiting to get in as soon as the stores open to take advantage of these deals- deals that exist in very limited quantities. Of course, this isn’t something they share before you bring your lawn chair to the parking lot and camp out. Shoppers are whipped into a frenzy salivating at the prospect of getting a good deal on crap they likely don’t need. In the days leading up to black Friday, I had more than 50 emails tempting me with the sweet nectar of at least 50% off- and that was BEFORE black Friday began. The mob mentality that comes from anxious shoppers waiting in the cold for hours on ends results in behavior like this.

Giving gifts is a part of the holiday season. And for those of us who don’t have a direct line to Santa, we are forced to go out and navigate our way through the world of retail. But when it becomes a contest to see who can grab the first feel-me-up Elmo or $20 dollar DVD player that was made for 1 cent in another country, it’s time to step back and take a look at who we are, what we’ve become, and how it turns the whole concept of giving- and the holidays- into a circus.

I have never, and will never behave like this.  And everyone I know who partakes in black Friday who don’t act like this either. I like getting a good deal on gifts for family and friends, and I want to get it out of the way so I can enjoy the holiday season in peace. To say that we shouldn’t shop is not only an ridiculous notion, it’s a costly one for our economy. We need to buy to keep our economy going. But we can do it in moderation. And we can do it with dignity and act like human beings. No one needs to go out on black Friday to shop, but if you do, be smart about the things you need and mindful of the people around you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to write my letter to Santa. I have it on good authority that he buys all his gifts online.


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