Enough is Enough: It is Time for Black Friday to Lighten Up

The following statement is long overdue: the craziness surrounding Black Friday is ridiculous, even for America. While the concept has its merits, people’s sheer lack of compassion for others when it comes to Black Friday is demoralizing.

Black Friday is an American tradition that originates from the 1950s and occurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving, marking the start of the shopping season before Christmas. During Black Friday, stores across the country discount the prices of their products exorbitantly to attract customers and make a significant surplus to offer themselves security during the chaotic and unpredictable holiday season. Prices of all types of products, from kitchen appliances to makeup to clothing, are temporarily dropped enough to draw in customers and convince potential customers to capitalize on the buzz. The prices are also ostensibly dropped “in the spirit of Christmas.” Considering how ruthlessly capitalistic the United States is, the first option is more of a plausible explanation, but the second option should also be recognized and adhered to, emphasizing the word should, because it clearly is not.

The concept of Black Friday likely did originate from good intentions. For low-income families, dropped prices and abundant discounts are incredibly useful, allowing them to afford basic necessities as well as giving them opportunities they would not have otherwise. But the reality of Black Friday is much different than the concept.

Instead of being viewed as an opportunity, Black Friday has become infamous because of the danger it presents. Because of the limited nature of the discounts — only 24 hours — opportunity turns to panic and crowds grow incredibly quickly. Stampedes are a common threat, and many Black Friday altercations have turned fatal.

The first recorded fatality was in 2008 when 200 people trampled a store employee, uncaring for his health. That same day, two people were fatally shot at a ‘Toys R Us’ in Palm Desert, California, and in 2019 a fight led to a shooting at a mall in Syracuse, New York. Hundreds of incidents of rudeness, verbal abuse, aggression, and even violence have been recorded on Black Fridays over the years over something as simple as a discounted toaster. Hapless employees have been verbally abused to the point of tears, family members have threatened each other and total strangers, and arrests have been made in the name of what? A discount?

The saddest part of the whole ordeal is that this is not surprising by any means. A capitalistic economy such as America’s guarantees that there will always be ‘winners and losers’, perpetual economic disparity. It fosters obsessive competition over basic human rights and creates division between its citizens. Everyone deserves to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, and yelling at someone over a pair of ripped jeans is deplorable.

America is about money; some stress about getting the best deals makes sense, but not in any situation does it justify the kind of despicable behavior portrayed during Black Friday. Black Friday brings out the worst in people, the kind of behavior you wouldn’t expect from a toddler, let alone a grown person.

Black Friday’s notoriety has spread to the media as well. In cartoons as old as Tom and Jerry, the chaos of Black Friday is depicted, warning children about the dangers. With caution instilled from such a young age, it’s no wonder that Black Friday seems to be decreasing in popularity and retreating online (especially during the surging of the pandemic). However, the new Black Friday market may be larger than in previous years, considering the return to normalcy.

The end of a year is a time for quiet contemplation, togetherness, and family and friend gatherings. It is not one for causing chaos and aggravation for yourself or for others. If you have been targeted in the chaos of Black Friday, you understand the extent of the turmoil of this event. If you have ever participated in the bullying nature of Black Friday, I strongly advise you to reflect and consider your choices.