Saturday, November 24, 2012

How We Can Stop "Black Friday"

This morning on Twitter, I found an article from the Washington Post headlined, "Where are the so-called 'family' organizations on Black Friday? Not where they should be." The article is written by a member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who points out that the retailers' infringing on the Thanksgiving holiday isn't exactly helping families stay together, but the organizations proclaiming "family values" aren't very vocal about it.

Let's leave the gay angle alone and focus on the main argument. Beginning "Black Friday" at midnight requires additional staffing at the stores on Thanksgiving itself. This will take retail employees away from their families on Thanksgiving itself. Even if the retailer allows time for Thanksgiving dinner itself and doesn't bring in the extra staff until just before the lunacy begins, those employees will not get the chance to rest and recover from the celebration. If someone wants to work "Black Friday" for the extra pay, that's understandable, but I suspect that doesn't apply to all of the employees working that night.

Furthermore, I am a Christian and I imagine many of my readers are as well. Do you think Jesus, who said that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions, would appreciate the prelude to His birthday being "celebrated" by materialistic mob madness? Does it honor Him to have someone trampled to death in the rush to save a few dollars on some toy or gadget that might well end up forgotten in a few months, as so many gifts often are? If I wanted to be over-dramatic, I could claim that poor fellow was a human sacrifice to the idol of American materialistic nonsense.

Furthermore, how many people willing to stand in line for hours to get these gifts put in similar efforts to serve "the least of these"? I don't claim to be the best at committing my time to charitable use, but if everyone spent those 2-3 hours working in a soup kitchen or something else beneficial, our country would be better off.

So here's something we can do. Rather than contribute to this ridiculous, destructive frenzy and give retailers incentive to be open earlier and earlier, taking employees away from their families on a holiday intended to celebrate the often-forgotten virtue of gratitude, let's avoid waiting in line Thanksgiving evening for the midnight madness. Wait until sunrise or thereabouts. I did go to Barnes and Noble on Black Friday to get some books for a couple friends (and that Starcraft book for me), but I waited until around dinnertime.

If people didn't vote with their wallets for this idiocy to occur, it wouldn't. One of the comments referenced "family values" organizations boycotting television programs they didn't approve of. If they similarly boycotted retailers who began "Black Friday" too early--or at the very least publicly encouraged their members to skip "Black Friday" itself--it would help redeem them from the charges of selectiveness often laid at their feet and hopefully have an impact on the retailers' behavior.

Some of these groups already have begun doing this. Take a look at Focus on the Family's "Give Back Friday." Good for them.


  1. Excellent critique of all this 'Black Friday' nonsense. I'm glad someone has their head screwed on straight with regards to this issue.

  2. Thanks. I found an article today about the worst behavior during Black Friday (someone leaving his girlfriend's kid at a K-Mart, a robbery, other stuff) that I could have used to bolster my point.

    However, the obvious response is that the article was a plurality of anecdotes.

  3. Yeah using extreme examples is never the best idea off the bat (but honestly every year we read about the exact same nonsense on Black Friday so no one could say it was exceptional).

    You lay out your case well and I can't for the life of me understand why people think it is such a big deal to be able to shop at frankly lousy discount prices or fight over random items.

  4. To be fair, some of those prices are really good, like $3 Blu-Ray movies at Wal Mart.

    However, standing in line for hours and hours late at night? One's time does have value, you know, and "Cyber Monday" might well have made "Black Friday" obsolete.