When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it ‘til
I satisfy my soul
-Steely Dan, “Black Friday.”
I love Black Friday. Not because I participate but because of the discourse it provokes. Google “hate Black Friday” and you will see scores of the self-righteous exclaiming in very cliché fashions why the day and those who engage in it are horrible. Google “love Black Friday” and you will see studies done by academics on the psychological reasons we can’t help but flood Wal-mart at 5 AM in order to save some money on socks. Really? Can’t we just shop without being analyzed? Then there are the people in the middle of it all; the 247 million “shoppers” who participated in Black Friday weekend in 2012. That number kind of makes me think that everyone else needs to shut up.
I come from a family that has never participated in Black Friday. Personally, Friday would only be “black” if the entire city of Charleston ran out of Coors light and I was already too drunk to drive away. I was going to fill this section with the history of Black Friday; when did it begin, who named it, etc., but I realized I really don’t give a shit. Instead, I’d like to provide a little history of the song posted above. “Black Friday” is a song that appeared on Steely Dan’s fourth album, Katy Lied, released in 1975. I’d much rather “Dig myself a hole and lay down in it” instead of go shopping. And, despite its title, the song has nothing to do with that day at all. Wasn’t that more fun?
Besides lecturing people about why Black Friday is wrong and exemplifies the excesses enjoyed in this country, blah blah blah, I’d like to offer one piece of advice: don’t get killed. Every year there is some awful story on the news about one idiot who got trampled by a lot of other idiots at Best Buy. I’m not saying this for your own safety; if you are dumb enough to get killed shopping then I believe that is natural selection at work. No, I’m warning you for your family’s sake. So they don’t have to explain to people, “mom died in the doorway at Target trying to get me an Xbox.” If you get up at 1 AM and wait in line for hours, isn’t it ok to wait just a few more seconds for the initial wave of wildebeests to clear the doorway before you force your way in. Didn’t you watch the Lion King? Those wildebeests will mess you up.
Every year, there are news stories, like the ones I found Googling “love Black Friday,” that try to scientifically explain why it’s so popular and mostly inhumane. Seriously, can’t we just shop without our brains getting picked apart by anti-capitalist, Burberry laden nerds? I know advertisers play heavily on our psyches by making us think we need all this junk. So much so we are willing to risk our lives and embarrass our families by forcing them to recount the story of our “Black Friday death”; but I say so what? I’d argue that most people enjoy the fun of finding a good deal, like to save some money on Christmas shopping and generally like the atmosphere of Black Friday. How horrible.
I bet there is a misconception of Black Friday shoppers that they are all cash-wielding sadists filling shopping carts with crap they don’t need, just because it’s on sale and so the other jerks can’t get it for their spoiled brat kids. I bet that’s simply not true. Most of them are just nice women in wool caps looking to get a head start on their Christmas shopping and to maybe find a good deal somewhere (don’t come at me with sexism crap because I said women, the great majority of Black Friday shoppers are women and that’s okay). We have a negative opinion of these people because the news only reports the “incidents” and we project the craziness onto everyone. But if you have 247 million people shopping around the same time there are going to be a few problems because some folks in this country are simply schmucks (that number includes, of course, the same people counted many times over as shoppers; 3/4s of the country aren’t all shopping).
So, if it behooves you to slip on your mittens and scream towards Target in the wee hours of the morning, that’s your business. We already know the narrative the media will give us because it’s the same garbage every year; ignore it. Writers without creativity will be railing against the practice just to make themselves feel superior to you droves of peasants; ignore them. I’m going to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family without worrying about how early I should get to the mall in the morning, but that shouldn’t’ deter you. Just don’t get killed.