28 November 2008
It has come to this. But who's really to blame? I know many people who don't fall for the "Black Friday" hype. Some people abhor crowds and have their holiday shopping done already. Personally, I don't mind the bustle of the normal holiday season and won't start shopping for some weeks yet. But some people can't resist the compulsion to be present at an obscene hour for an arbitrarily declared beginning of the season. The stores exacerbate the condition with promises of the best prices for the earliest customers. The term "Black Friday" comes from their expectation that sales after Thanksgiving will put them in the black for the year. For sales staffs it's probably had a different meaning for some time, as the day must be one of the year's worst for them. Now the term probably approaches the meaning the Universal studio intended when they made it the title of a 1940 horror film. The day after Thanksgiving has been a kind of spectacle for some time, now, a manufactured false event, a means of exploiting people's tendency to take a four-day weekend when there's a Thursday holiday. There's no easy fix for the situation. You can only hope that people decide that the event isn't worth the danger, but that might not sink in until a shopper dies.