An Open Letter To Black Friday Shoppers
Dear ladies and gentleman of the consuming public,
Somewhere out there in the dark, cold November morning, people you know and potentially care about are in considerable danger. Hair is being pulled and molars are penetrating deep into unprotected flesh; elbows are being thrown and babies are screaming while their mothers scream even louder. The weak and vulnerable are groveling below the stampeding masses, faces filled with twisted expressions of fear and panic—in their eyes, the reflection of their shattered dreams and the dark glaze of defeat.
Surprisingly, this is not the harrowing dawn of a cyborg apocalypse, nor the latest and most-hardcore Cross-Fit program—these people are sprawled over the parking lot of your local strip mall, trying to score some price-slashed camcorders and Dora the Explorer bobble-heads. Any tryptophan-induced sedation still coursing through their veins from yesterday’s turkey is fast being replaced by pure, white-hot, deal-busting, extreme-couponing adrenaline.
Black Friday has descended. And society is going insane.
The madness is real. And it’s totally unnecessary. In an age where laser-beams on sharks and underwear with air conditioning are unsurprising realities, there are superior shopping methods, those that don't involve drowning in a sea of flailing appendages, Kafkaesque checkout lines, and overall bad feelings.
That’s why I implore you: stay home, relax, enjoy some casual horseplay with loved ones, and properly utilize the Internet I know you must have if you are reading these words, unless a hard-copy was handed out to you at the public library, in which case, tell Larry I said hey.
Get off the streets and get onto your laptops—it's the new American way to participate in this distinctly American tradition, and it might just save your life and your sanity.
Like most things horrible in this world, “Black Friday” is a product of Philadelphia, where the term was coined by local police to describe the overabundance of shoppers and general mobs the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the start of the Holiday Season. While now it's generally accepted that the "Black" refers to companies turning a profit in their books, the demonic overtones of the noir nameplate live on in the vicious attacks that seemingly spring up every year, incentivized by the biggest, "first-come, first-serve" deals of the year.
The chaos and calamity of Black Friday has become the ideal counter-point to Thanksgiving—a holiday based on the ideals of family, togetherness, and other warm (sometimes nauseating) sentiments. But frankly, it doesn't have to be that way.
Shopping—like porn, stalking, and cats—has been completely revolutionized by the Internet. No longer must we brave the wild frontier of JC Penny's to land the best homeware, or the cold hard linoleum of Lowe's for power drills. Anything and everything we want is at our literal fingertips. Want the hottest toy for your little one's this season? Simply hit up any number of dot com marketplaces, and avoid any altercations of Sinbad/Schwarzenegger proportions.
On Black Friday, Wal-Mart is a lot like ancient Sparta, with all the drop-kicking, shirtless Greek guys, and omnipresent, leering blood-lust. But the Internet? The Internet is the same warm and inviting place it's always been since the days of 56k dial-up.
"Black Friday" as we know it is quickly losing steam, and it's not (just) due to fear of being blasted in the face with industrial-strength pepper spray while reaching for that last copy of Mario Kart.
With Cyber Monday slowly, but steadily, extending its competent and ultra-convenient tentacles across the weekend, and even into the week preceding Turkey Day, Black Friday is quickly becoming as relevant as Steve Urkel's Urkelbot. And I don't hate it.
If we fully commit to the revolution now, younger generations will never have to know about the horrors of Black Friday. Gone are the days of cramming into mom's Suburban and heading to Circuit City to get the new Papa Roach CD. As I sit at my desk, I can, without delay, watch every movie ever, completely for free—all while ordering a pizza, without having to speak and simultaneously uploading a video of my friend getting hit in the junk with a remote control drone. I'm not going to be waiting in line for a discounted microwave, any time soon.
The mob mentality and "me-first" attitude perpetuated by these brick and mortar megastores can bring out the worst in consumerism and collective culture as a whole, and by taking a step back and examining it from a logical point of view, there's absolutely no reason to put your safety on the line for any material item. In all seriousness, we genuinely hope no one is injured during the ongoing festivities, but such (warranted) concerns just reinforce my point.
That being said, in my opinion, it is your right, neigh—your national duty—as a red-blooded American consumer to participate in the Yuletide revelry that is the holiday shopping season, but do so like a 21st century adult.
This Black Friday, stay in, keep warm, and buy all the cool sh*t you want. Just make sure you stroke the nation's economy from the comfort of your computer chair, and not the local mall. Remember, it's for the greater good.
Wil Fulton is a recent Harvard grad who just received his triple Black-Belt in kung-fu, shortly after escorting Miss America safely to the top of Mount Everest. He’s also a compulsive liar. Follow him for the real truth @WilWithOnlyOneL