Maxing Out: Black Friday, an embarrassing tradition

MAX FURIGAY ’19
COLUMNIST
Our first school break (short though it may have been) has drawn to a close, and hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is ready for the final exam gauntlet/awkward two weeks of class that await us all.
While I absolutely love Thanksgiving and everything that it represents, there’s one aspect of Thanksgiving that has become increasingly worrisome to me over the last decade: Black Friday.
While I love getting good deals on clothing, consumer electronics, and all that other jazz as much as the next guy, I think that Black Friday is a national embarrassment that we should all be ashamed of.
It’s absolutely disgusting to see millions of Americans whipped up into a consumeristic frenzy to a point that one hears stories of brawls breaking out in Target over half-priced blenders, or people being literally stampeded to death in the craze to enter a Wal-Mart.
We line up like sheep outside stores, waiting for doors to open in a competition of who can win the prize of best consumer, and, in doing so, invalidate any goodwill or expression of thanks given the day before.
What happened to being happy about, content with, or (god forbid) thankful for what one already has?
It seems that the lip service that Americans pay to these profoundly important and increasingly scarce ideas begins and ends on the fourth Thursday in November. This cheapens Thanksgiving to a day in which we argue with our relatives and then consume copious amounts of food and alcohol: a celebration, in short, of excess.
Like we don’t have enough of that in America anyway.
It’s gotten worse over the last ten years. It used to be that Black Friday was relegated to the Friday for which it is named: unfortunately, this is no longer true.
Midnight Black Friday events began to sneak up on us, and then vendors just decided to screw it and start Black Friday on Thursday evening. With the digital age has also come the ridiculous introduction of Cyber Monday.
They can’t go any further without literally destroying Thanksgiving (instead of doing so metaphorically, in which they have already succeeded).
These actions encourage American consumeristic excess in the worst way, and they do so on the one day that espouses the complete opposite of the Black Friday craze.
This needs to stop. Businesses that participate in the absurd Black Friday on Thursday ritual are slowly destroying one of America’s most important holidays.
American society already struggles with excess: be it houses that we cannot afford, food which we over-consume, or just the ever-present materialistic demand of more. Entitlement and instant gratification run rampant, creating a warped version of the American Dream that is both embarrassing and unsustainable.
Thanksgiving is not just important on one day, yet consciously practicing gratitude towards the world around oneself is a skill that has become increasingly rare.
Black Friday is the microcosm of American consumerism that shows just how crazy we have become: we can’t even dedicate one entire day to giving thanks before running off on the largest, most excessive spending sprees of the year.
I think that we can do better, and I think that America can do better. So maybe next year, give it a week before dashing off to buy the latest clothing or video games that we don’t really need.
Unlike hundreds of crazed Wal-Mart shoppers in a shopping stampede, it cannot possibly kill you.

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