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Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday: What Is It, And Why I Don't Participate

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in America, and is seen as a build-up to the holiday season. A national holiday, Thanksgiving is held during the last Thursday of November each year. 

It is the U.S equivalent to Boxing Day in Britain. Boxing Day takes place on the 26th December after Christmas Day. But unlike Boxing Day, Black Friday is not considered a holiday. 

The name 'Black Friday' originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was used to describe the heavy traffic that occurs the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is used to denote the point where retailers make a profit. People camp outside stores during the early hours of the morning to grab the latest bargains and deals for products. 

As it is the last holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Retailers, both in store and online, offer early discounts on the latest items in attempts to entice consumers and help drive up their revenue.  

In recent years, Black Friday has made its way to other countries such as the UK. 

In 2013, British supermarket chain Asda (which is/was owned by U.S chain, Wal-Mart) started promoting Black Friday in the UK. 

The Ugliness of Black Friday 

The most common criticisms with Black Friday are to do with promoting and encouraging greed and that material wealth and goods are more important than people's livelihoods. Well, in those terms of mass consumerism and capitalism. 

Oh and that it results in people getting into arguments and fights, in order to get what they want, for material goods they want, rather than need. 

Some people even got stabbed or shot. C'mon now, think about it: is it really worth hurting another human being and/or getting arrested for it over a doll for your daughter, or even a coffee maker? Sheez. 

Given that it takes place the day after Thanksgiving, where people are thankful and gracious for many things in their lives, it is somewhat strange that the next day, many would choose to throw away those sentiments, in exchange for a high-end plasma TV, the latest cell phone or expensive jewelry. 

I don't hate it because it is American, and there are some Brits that despise it for that reason alone. 

I loathe the behaviour that takes place; when the doors finally open, crowds stampede their way like bulls (akin to the running of the bulls in Spain) and people rush to the nearest aisle where their chosen items lie awaiting. The hostility, people getting tramped on, the desperation, all that pushing and shoving and disregarding other people's welfare. 

Why tolerate this, when you can choose to spend any other day shopping when the crowds aren't as packed? 

Or even shop online. Besides, shopping online is cheaper and you can still find what you want, at a fraction of the price in store. 

The people who fight & barge their way, must really take a good long hard look at themselves and think about how their actions and behaviour reflect on them, but also remembering who they are buying these goods for. Most likely they will be presents and gifts for their friends and family members, - and to think that there is a nasty after feeling in giving that person that gift, and knowing you had to hit and injure other people as well to attain it. Not nice. 

And this behaviour and people acting like hooligans over things, because they were spurred on by their love for loved ones and all, purr-lease. 

Source: Asda via Facebook from 2014

Use and Exchange 

Black Friday is more or less an evaluation of ourselves as individuals. Things like this and owning material goods, it tends to fill a void in your life. Buying your favourite things and thinking it will make you happy. 

It goes back to the theory of use/exchange; Products have a use/exchange value attachment to them. In Marxist terms, the exchange value equates to the value of quantity of the thing. This 'value' refers to the actual product or item. The 'use' value is tied to its uses that owning the item has. For example, if you buy say, a grill, the use value of the grill, would be to cook and heat up food. 

We buy things and use them, and if we are not satisfied, we can exchange them for a refund, or a replacement product of a similar value, within 30 days with proof of purchase, such as a receipt.  

Back to the topic, I think it's (a bit), nuts, to wake up at 4 or 5am in the morning to venture out in the freezing cold (and probably raining too), and to go and camp outside the store, just to land a bargain. 

It is not just the financial and economic ramifications people take issue with; Black Friday is having a negative effect on workers and family members as well. Those companies and stores ought to take responsibility, not just for the lives of their employees. & playing and toying with people's emotions. I am not against shopping. Going out to shop is better than shopping online; for one reason being you get exercise and fresh air walking to the store. But on Black Friday, this has to be an exception. 

It is alarming that over the years, we read incident upon incident of anarchy and that the stores don't do enough to curtail the escalating and out of control crowds. 

I don't shop on Black Fridays; why should I when I have the rest of the year excluding Black Friday and Christmas Day) to shop. 

When Black Friday doesn't descend into chaos and anarchy, when people conduct themselves out in public and behave in an orderly fashion, buy and pay for what they need (moreso than what they want) and exit the store without added drama, it is a good thing. Yet when Black Friday does descend into chaos and anarchy, when people disregard their human feelings and when money is treated as the be-all and end-all thing, that is a recipe for not just disaster. But also of indecency and lack of humanity. 

If the spirit of Christmas is the giving, not the receiving, then sadly, the spirit of Black Friday ought to be money, money and more money. 

Oh and being crushed and trampled on by an ongoing crowd.  

* Image by Shoebox Blog 

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