Monday, November 26, 2007

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Stop the Madness!

Black Friday.

I know that I am a little late to the discussion about what happened last Friday. But since most of what happened last Friday is going to be repeated in some form or another throughout the next month until Christmas- this post is in fact very timely.

Disgust. Embarrassment. Anger. Disappointment. Sadness.

These are some of the emotions that I experienced as I watched people pile into the stores on Friday morning. Up until Friday morning, I saw the hype. I watched the television commercials tell us that we need to wake up early Friday morning to take advantage of unprecedented savings. "Run, don't walk!" was the mantra of every television commercial and newspaper insert. If I hurry, stores will happily open early (some as early as 4am!!) so that I can take advantage of buying their cheap crap now.

What continued to amaze me was watching the television news on Friday evening. The camera's were in place to capture all the action. Reporters were sent to the stores. It was a big party, the stores had a carnival-like atmosphere. What did I see? -people pushing, running and screaming. People pushing over their fellow man in order to save $20 on a digital camera, or $50 on an Mp3 player. Good savings, sure. But at what cost?

People sacrificed their time. Thanksgiving is a time for family. It is a time for reflection and giving thanks. Thanksgiving is a time to look beyond one's self and give thanks to God, our wonderful creator and source of all blessings. In contrast, Black Friday is all about self.

Many of these sales demanded that if you wanted to save you had to be there early. The stores opened as early as 4am. But you needed to get there earlier than that in order to secure your place in line. I read stories of people leaving Thanksgiving evening to spend all night in line. People sacrificed their sleep. They took time away from their families and from their homes. A lot of families approached the shopping day like planning for D-Day. Members split up, while in constant communication via cell-phone, in order to divide and conquer and maximize the coverage.

People sacrificed their dignity. I could feel the craziness and energy come through the television as I watched people shove and squeeze their way through the small, narrow portal doors of large department stores. People were worked up into a feeding frenzy. All social considerations were thrown out the window. No more was it women and children first, rather it was every man for himself.

Other people are to be seen as important and valuable and to be treated with kindness and consideration. But not on Black Friday. People are obstacles who are now in my way of getting the $500 LCD flat panel big screen T.V. If you have to trample over someone's fallen body, then DO IT! If you have to throw an elbow in order to grab a Nintendo Wii, then DO IT! Do whatever it takes because they don't call this day Black Friday for nothing. Disgusting!

People sacrificed their souls. Is this what we are? Is who I am defined as merely being a consumer. Is that my sole identity? Is that my sole purpose? God tells us that we are more than consumers. Our purpose goes well beyond mere consumption. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1)

Look!-let it be known that I like getting a good deal more than anyone. I rarely buy anything full price and will often wait for something to go on sale. But what I am angry about is how many of us are being led around by the nose by these stores and their contrived, manufactured sales.

They create artificial scarcity to build up need and angst. They manufacture hype and buzz. They tell us that we need to be there. They tell us we need to sacrifice everything to get it, our time, dignity and soul. And in return they will sell us stuff, already marked up 400%+, at a token discount, letting us believe that we smartest and luckiest people in the whole world.


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