If you have a strong stomach, check out this bone-chilling “Black Friday Disasters Supercut” from YouTube (keep your finger near the mute button; it gets very loud).
What is it about deep discounts that turns otherwise decent people into bloodthirsty savages for the sake of a deal? If I saw a scene like this happening in front of me, I would use my phone to call the police, not film it for YouTube. And therein lies the key: Violence is and has always been high entertainment, and this is the modern arena.
No matter which side of the cash register you’re on, shopping at this time of year is a blood sport, and both the retailers and the customers apparently want it that way.
Retailers want competition, so they create artificial shortages and a false sense of urgency–limited quantities for a limited time! Door-buster pricing for the first hour only! First 100 people through the door get a free gift! Etc. If they wanted to sell more product with less carnage, they would maintain regular, albeit extended, hours throughout the season, have enough stock on hand to meet the expected demand for prime items, and perhaps even create some kind of distribution system other than “free for all” (also known as “kill or be killed,” good heavens). Sale prices would be in effect all day for several days, and new stock would be scheduled to arrive throughout the sale.They would not just hire extra event security staff to stand at the edges of the melee guffawing and egging people on.
Customers, meanwhile, want the thrill of the hunt, the fight and the kill, which is reserved for the brave, determined, ruthless few willing to put their health and safety on the line for a deeply discounted mobile phone. So maybe you threw a few elbows, bloodied somebody’s nose, or even took a punch yourself. But by golly, you saved a lot of money, and that alone is proof that you are smarter, faster, stronger and more fit than those wimps who stayed home today and will pick up the same phone at the same discount at that same store on a quiet weekday afternoon several days from now.
Because that’s how it really works–no matter what deal you see out there today, the same or better will come along again between now and Christmas and there will be no camping out in line or 4 a.m. dashes or insane crowd violence to contend with in order to get it. This Black Friday madness has gotten completely out of hand. We need to expect and demand more of ourselves and one another.
I will admit that I did leave my house today, and I did enter more than one retail establishment with intent to shop. I went to my favorite local antique store and browsed quietly for more than an hour. Sadly, I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without (this time). I then went to the grocery store that was a pulsating flood of hungry humanity just 48 hours prior, and found it nearly deserted. Interestingly, the cashier told me that Black Friday is always their slowest day of the year.
I had gotten a pumpkin pie there on Wednesday that had a crust that was remarkably similar in taste and texture to cardboard, and I wanted some other kind of pumpkin treat that actually tasted good. So I got the makings for that, and will have pics and a recipe for you tomorrow.