Nov 252011
Back yard

My back yard on Sunny Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 2:20 pm PST

If you’ve lived in the U.S. for at least a single Thanksgiving, you know about Black Friday. Retailers open super early to launch the holiday shopping season with ridiculous deals, and shoppers respond by raiding the stores. It’s called “black” because it’s hell out there and because it marks the retailers starting to run a profit on the year (or be “in the black”). A lot of people have strong feelings about Black Friday. 

In the Black Corner…

Representing the Pro Black Friday side this year is the man who camped out in front of the Yakima, Washington, Best Buy on Tuesday, and the “competitive shopper” woman who pepper-sprayed her fellow bargain hunters at the San Fernando Valley, California, Walmart (shootings have been reported around the country, too). A few years back, a Walmart employee was trampled to death by the crowd bolting for merchandise.

In the Red Corner…

Representing the Con side are the Buy Nothing Day activists. The Buy Nothing Day is a direct response to Black Friday promoted by the Canadian magazine AdBusters, which also recently stoked the Occupy Wall Street movement (the irony warrants a separate post). Staying away doesn’t bleed, and so BND lives largely in social media or left- and sustainability-minded blogs like TreeHugger.

The Verdict

In the Black Friday vs. Buy Nothing Day smackdown, Black Friday wins hands down in the media (the National Day of Listening or the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, which fell on Black Friday this year, stood no chance as they were eliminated in the pre-qualifying rounds). The Pro’s are happy because they believe they got their money’s worth, and the Con’s are satisfied because they, too, accomplished something (yes, I don’t buy Buy Nothing Day).

To make judgments about Americans based on Black Friday news reports is all too easy. I suspect the majority of Americans stand in the middle between the black and red corners, minding their own business. They steer clear of stores on Black Friday precisely because of the madness, care little about the empty gesture of Buy Nothing Day, and instead enjoy Day 2 of the 4-day weekend, eating leftovers from the previous night, watching movies, going for walks…

As far as I’m concerned,  it’s shockingly sunny out there today, so Sunny Friday wins. I’m getting off the computer to enjoy it.

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