Consumerism Madness

I do not participate in Black Friday shopping. Only twice have I ever left my home before the afternoon on the day after Thanksgiving. Both times I was not buying anything for myself, nor was I Christmas shopping for others. On both occasions I was accompanying someone else: one a friend camping out for most of the night for a laptop, the other did something similar for a television. In essence they were camping out for vouchers for said products, and both of them got them.

There is nothing wrong with camping out for products. I have done it before, granted the only reason I did it was because I was bored. But things like iPhones and new gaming consoles have enthusiasts lining up for hours. People even break out the sleeping bags for movies: there were people camping out for Star Wars: Episode I (see how that turned out for them!).

There is something wrong with trampling people to death to get into a store, shooting someone over a parking space and starting fights over some toy in a department store.

Every year there are stories similar to the above, always revolving around Black Friday. For the past decade Black Friday sales have been creeping further and further forward. Previously they started during normal shopping hours. Then it was 6 A.M, then 4 A.M, then midnight. This year it was 8 P.M. on Thanksgiving. Next year will probably be 6 P.M. and who knows the year after.

I did go out today, but not for some insane sale but because there was some shopping to be done. It was not at four in the morning, half awake and stumbling into the store hoping to score some swag, but instead at three in the afternoon. All the while I kept thinking of past reasons why I don’t deal with Black Friday and some things about shopping that have always been on my mind.

1) Think hard before you spend your (or your spouses) hard-earned money on a sale.

In America it seems to be it’s not how much you spend, but it’s all about how much you save: “Check it out! I can go buy this toaster for 75% off!” “But that’s $50 for a toaster.” “It’s an amazing deal!”

That exchange seems absurd but many of the deals you see on Black Friday are similar. Another could go along the lines of this: “Oh man, a 32 inch LED HD TV for $150!” “Do you really need a 32 inch TV? Where are you going to put it?” “How can I pass it up? It’s so cheap!” “I bet it’s cheap because it’s made by the same no-name company that made that $200 toaster you just bought.”

Brand names are “brand name” for a reason. I’m pretty confidant in saying that someone wouldn’t go buy an expensive television made by some company they’ve never heard of before now. But make it super cheap and liable to crap out in a year or two and you’ve got yourself a bargain. I’ve always been curious what the markup is.

2) It’s not going to kill you to walk.

Time and time again I end up frustrated in a parking lot not because I can’t find a space. Instead this annoyance often stems from being stuck behind the person waiting five minutes for someone to pack their purchases in their car and leave. In the time it takes you to wait for that spot, then park, I could have found a spot much further away and still be in the store. Same thing goes for circling the parking lot looking for that one spot that’s only six spaces away from the door. Walking from the end of the parking lot is not going to kill you. You walk through the store once you’re in there anyways.

3) It’s not the employee’s fault they’re out of stock.

If you think you’re the only one who got it in their head to wait outside for seventeen hours to buy that monstrous television for $800 dollars off, think again. Black Friday sales happen across the nation, all 3.7 million square miles of it. There are only so many of those TVs allotted to your region, then to that particular store you decided to grace with your presence. There aren’t gremlins hiding the back stealing all the TV’s just to spite you. Nor do those gremlins work for the employee trying to keep order by handing out vouchers. Screaming at them isn’t going to make a TV appear.

4) Have fun.

If you go out shopping at ludicrous hours, dealing with thousands of impatient, grumpy people, on the hunt for delicious deals you better be having fun. I have family that makes it a tradition to go shopping on Black Friday. I think they’re insane. The reason I think this is because I have nearly been run over by some psychotic woman trying to bull her way through a line of people. But, they have fun. If you’re not having fun just go home, your angry yelling and shoving is not helping.

5) Don’t blame the stores for making employees work.

During this time a year, more often in recent years due to the spread of social media, people often complain about stores making employees work on holidays or coming in at crazy hours. Sometimes they do force people to work, this is true. Other times though people volunteer to work those hours. Why? Money, dear boy. Working on holidays is often time and a half, or double, sometimes triple depending on if they’re a full time employee who already reached their hours. If it’s food service it’s about the tips. Working on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Eve often yields amazing tips. I know from personal experience. Yes there is some bad for making people work, but some people volunteer. For some people it pays the bills during the holidays when money is tight.

6) Enjoy the holidays and be thankful others enjoy them as well.

Whether you’re someone who braves crowds or someone who barricades themselves on the couch, enjoy what you do. That goes for letting others enjoy what they do as well. Don’t tell someone they’re stupid for doing something or that they’re a party pooper. Do I think my family is nuts for going shopping on Black Friday? Sure. But do I let it deter me from thinking they’re a blast to be around? No. I’m glad they’re enjoying their holidays how they choose. Maybe some year they’ll convince me to go shopping. I doubt it. But you can’t ever rule anything out.

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