Sure, there is good and bad in everything. “Black Friday” is no exception. Everyone loves a deal, and stores try to outdo each other every year. Still, what does such a massive display of consumerism say about us as a society? Most especially in light of the mob trampling death at a Long Island Wal-Mart. What the hell? Is that sale so important, so vital, that “anything goes?”
We have all heard of trampling deaths as crowds attempt to escape disaster, or move through a mass religious experience, or even at sporting events. Can you imagine, being killed by those who are in such a hurry to get somewhere, they don’t give a damn if you live or die, and mow right over you? And now imagine that even to be nothing but a good price on a sub-standard TV or computer. Is that a hallmark of a sane group of people?
What kind of mindset does a person have to be in to become so involved with getting into a store that they are literally OK with trampling right over someone to do it? And then to complain, as some did, when the store was forced to close because of the death? Shame on the shoppers, and shame on Wal-Mart. It’s kind of like the old saying people tell children “it’s all fun and games, until someone loses an eye.” Well, someone got killed. The store should have either had adequate security in place or not opened. If the crowd was becoming unruly, the store should have remained closed. And everyone involved should step forward and face the music. Of course that’s not going to happen, but at least, hopefully, they are shamed enough to reform their behavior.
Some will say it was just an accident, an unfortunate turn of events that just happened. Wrong! The death was a direct result of greed gone wild. The greed of individual shoppers who had no regard for what was going on, and the greed of the store for ignoring concerns and letting the mob run. All involved share guilt, and should share in responsibility.
To a more abstract thought – what is it that drives “Black Friday?” Just the rampant consumerism of the Christmas phenomenon, or is there more? Some live for the day, many hate it and won’t go anywhere near a store. I tend to the latter, although I did make some buys on the day a couple of times. To me it seems to be a celebration of the lesser. There is so much more we could do as individuals and as a society. Wouldn’t it be something if there was a day in the holiday season devoted to helping others? And please, don’t say Christmas is that day.
The trend the last few years has been for retailers to open earlier and offer more “doorbusters” to get the first shoppers. Some stores have even gone to opening at Midnight. Is it time to end the madness? Perhaps towns and cities could pass restrictions saying a store can’t open any earlier then it’s regular hours. And that they must have policies in place to deal with unruly crowds. And most importantly – if enough of us ignore the sales, Black Friday will become a thing of the past. Stores would be forced to have sales that were longer. Would that be such a bad thing?
And perhaps we could even find better things to do with ourselves our time, and our money.