See the bright side of Black Friday

JeffMcfarlandDespite what that e-mail from your extended family member says, the term “Black Friday” did not originate from slave auctions. Black Friday, as a phrase, originated somewhere in the 50s, when laborers would call in sick the Friday after Thanksgiving so they could have a four day weekend. In the 60s, the term was used to describe the sudden influx of foot-traffic as large amounts of people went Christmas shopping.

What was once a term used by Philadelphia police to describe pedestrians has now become an international spectacle. In the days following Black Friday, social media sites and news outlets alike light up with footage of stampedes, fist fights and disgusting human behavior in the name of American capitalism.

Those of us less fit for this Darwinian exercise sit back at home and watch the carnage unfold, opting instead to compete in the invisible race that is “Cyber Monday.”

Though the general consensus among most seems to be that a 60-inch television isn’t worth having your teeth kicked in, there is one aspect of the Black Friday fallout that I despise almost as much as I enjoy watching society tear itself apart over spectacular savings.

Commentators on Facebook and the like are first in line to demonize those risking their necks for purchased goods, and while I in no way condone the barbaric behavior Black Friday often yields, these holier-than-thou folks do not have the moral high ground that they pretend to. I’d wager to guess a lot of these people lead somewhat privileged lives: a TV of their own, a laptop of their own, food, water, a roof over their heads, etc. For them, Christmas means money from a relative or time spent with their family. Why would they need anything else?

What they don’t understand is the “consumerist capitalist corporate machine, man” is the only chance some people have to give their families something spectacular for the holiday.

As touching as it is to claim that family time is a gift in and of itself, the reality is that many people return from the break complaining about their relatives. Shocking as it may be to hear this, not everyone is as fortunate as you.

For some, that 60 inch TV or new PS4 is a once-a-year luxury. Is it right to put others in danger for this? No, but if you don’t recognize the irony in criticizing capitalism via Facebook status on an overpriced internet connection, you have larger problems than your misplaced outrage.

The saddest part is, Black Friday doesn’t have to be the nightmare it is. With a little foresight, shops could avoid the zombie horde built-up at their front doors. Requiring single file lines and giving redeemable cards on a first-come-first-served basis for big ticket items eliminates the consumer’s need to race and battle for limited quantities of items.

On a similar note, shops need to plan accordingly for what they know will be an insane number of customers. If there’s enough to go around, there’s nothing to compete for.

It isn’t wrong to want to surprise someone with a lavish gift. It also isn’t wrong to want nicer or newer things. It’s just human nature. It’s when you decide to forsake priorities or the well being of others that problems occur.

The holidays can be a rough time for everyone. A time that’s supposed to be focused on relaxation and reconnecting with family members often degenerates into a rat race for gifts and an argument over time allotment. This holiday season, be grateful for the people and the things that are already in your life.

New TV or not, Black Friday can be just as bright as the rest of the holiday season.

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