What are you thankful for?
I’m thankful for what I already have. I’m thankful for the things that truly matter—my family, friends, having good food to eat, my education and the house in which I live. But, I am most certainly not thankful for Black Friday.
Whoever decided it would be a good idea to get up at 3 AM only to throw all of our thankfulness out the window in the face of consumerism probably never understood why we have Thanksgiving in the first place. How can we sit around the table with the people we care about the most, sharing a delicious meal, reflecting upon how lucky we are, only to book it to the nearest mall a few hours later? Haven’t enough holidays been corrupted already? Christmas and Valentines Day already bring in enough capital on their own, and frankly, Thanksgiving is the worst holiday to affiliate with sales and purchases. After realizing how incredibly fortunate we are, we should instead be inspired to not go shopping for a solid week, if we Americans can even resist.
Here are some Black Friday statistics to think about: According to Ignition One, during Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, each shopper spent an average of $423, and this number is supposed to increase in 2013. Additionally, 247 million people shopped in stores and/or online during those same days, and this is likewise increasing continuously. To put this into perspective, according to the United States Census, the US population on July 4, 2012 was at about 314 million people, meaning that around 78.6% of Americans went shopping on Black Friday in 2012. 78.6% of the people in this country, after claiming that they were grateful and lucky for what they already had, for the things that actually mattered (excluding those who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving), found it necessary to spend an average of $423 purchasing material things shortly afterward.
Not only do I find the “spirit” of Black Friday revolting, but the desperate attitude of shoppers is ridiculous to the point where it has become dangerous. Several articles report people resorting to violence in order to purchase an item they wanted. For instance, according to NBC News, “after buying a big screen TV, a Las Vegas shopper was shot at around 9:45 p.m. local time (12:45 a.m. ET) late Thursday as he tried to take his purchase home.” Also, “a man in Claypool Hill, West Virginia, was slashed with a knife after threatening another man with a gun in an argument over a Wal-Mart parking spot.” Really? Is shopping so important to Americans that it is worth putting people’s safety at risk in order to bring home a television, or secure a parking spot?
Regardless of these reports of violence, long lines, huge crowds, and the requirement of waking up early, Black Friday is simply another manifestation of this country’s reputation for greed and selfishness. I, for one, have chosen not to identify with this aspect of our culture, because I have more faith in our ability to be thankful. After all, we have dedicated an entire holiday to appreciating the things we have, and to share this gratefulness with others. So if you are truly thankful, if you really believe that you are lucky—lucky enough to sit around a table with your family and friends, with food to eat, a bed to sleep in, and a roof to live under—I encourage you to show your thankfulness by not giving in to the “Dark Side”. Reflect on what the world has already granted you, and abstain from going shopping on Black Friday.