Reflections on Black Friday

Dec 2, 2011 by

Reflections on Black Friday

Yesterday I was reading an article about a Black Friday event. The piece was reporting on one of those incessantly advertised sales at a large retailer. You know the type, one of those scenes where people wait outside in line for hours, sometimes even days, to get whatever discounts the retail store tosses out as bait.

This specific article was focusing its report on an injury, which had occurred at the store. However, that is not primarily what struck me as I read the story.

First, let me give you a little background info. This store was running big discounts on toys and games. Therefore, many people brought their children with them.

When those doors opened, people poured in like water gushing through a funnel. They raced toward the display of games, grabbing and snatching the items within their reach. Screaming. Tearing. Yanking. Clutching. Tussling. Yelling. Seizing. They were relentless in their willingness to do whatever it took to get what they wanted.

Nevertheless, what hit me the hardest in this reading was the blatant incongruity. These were toys and games, items intended for children. Yet, the adults were described as pulling, ripping and wrenching the sale items out of young children’s small hands. In several cases, the adults were fighting with the children to force them to let go of the toys.

I realize these were not their own children.


They were children and these were toys.

Children. Toys.

Enough said.

Why were these adults so comfortable, so able, so willing to abuse a child to obtain an object created with the intention that it belong to a child?

Were they planning to give it to their own child?

Can they ever look at the toy again and not experience a reminder of the ugliness of their own behavior that brought that item into their home?

It is interesting to me as a social scientist. You see, the stores choose to set up these circumstances because they anticipate people will flock to these events. Furthermore, they anticipate people will push and shove each other to be the first to tumble through those doors like sheep through a chute. All the stores care about are the dollars they bring in. That is each store’s bottom line.

The store is not responsible for the actions of those people. The store only made it possible for each of those people to learn a whole lot about themselves and the bottom line of their own personal ethics.






  1. Very provoking words, my kind friend. Thank you for sharing those beautifully illustrated thoughts.

  2. Thank you, Adele. I appreciate the profundity of what you have offered here and I wholeheartedly agree.

  3. Dear Brooke~

    Your words, sentiments (and sorrows) profoundly echo my own! I have wondered for most of my adult life how and why we would ever openly…blatantly…plan a day, and set up a “battlefield” for brutalizing and demeaning each other, and ourselves….in the name of and in front of our children! What is worse…we do this in the name of the the “celebration” of Christmas…the religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ…the Prince of Peace….whose name and very purpose for being is love and compassion!!! I ask you…what in the world are we thinking???

    I am not a Christian, nor do I belong to any other religion…though I do practice the principles of Buddhism, and the other major world religions. I will admit, in my younger days, when my children were small, I would sometimes rise early, go out with friends on a planned shopping excursion the day after Thanksgiving…in hopes of finding inexpensive treasure….bargains, if you will… for Christmas gifts. (I gave this up in favor of sleep and no bruises long ago)…but never did I witness anything on the scale of what I have seen happening in recent years…and most especially on this infamous Black Friday event!

    Just the other day I saw on television that a woman used a can of mace to spray away competitive shoppers who might interfere with her claiming the best of the store bounty all for herself! Now to make matters even worse…it became fairly clear that this woman actually planned ahead in bringing with her and intending to use this “weapon” for her own greedy and harmful purposes…and if that is so, we must ask ourselves…is this who we are…who we want to be?

    Now some will jump on the bandwagon, proselytizing agains people like this, clarifying they they are not in support of such practices….and hopefully many are not. Others will blame the increasingly deteriorating state of our economy…or even the economy worldwide….citing their dwindling funds and increasing prices of goods (including toys) as an explanation for why they must do what they must do in this increasingly “dog eat dog” culture…but for me…rather than accuse or shake a stick at these “consumers”…which I am easily moved to do…I hope to step back for a minute and look at the broader picture and say…how can I either bring more awareness to the societal values dilemma we now find ourselves in…or what can I do to help make changes happen with regard to all of this? Your article here, Brooke, is such a beginning, and for this I most gratefully thank you! It is not enough to simply see ad disapprove…we must speak to the truth we witness and do what we can to initiate appropriate changes that will support compassionate and humanistic coexistence in own neighborhoods…now!

    Thanks so much for bringing your visionary light on yet another circumstance of humanity slipping through the cracks! Now it is up to us to bring more light to bear on similar hometown hurts.

  4. My dearest Brooke; The bit of human nature you identify in this story is prevalent throughout mankiind. There is a point in bargaining when all comportment as a human being ceases and a firey eyed, blathering idiot bargain hunter becomes a never satisfied animal. I have seen grown men, who were othewisen gentle men, actually become rude then teary eyed when they learned that someone had paid less for an item than they had. It is an ancient part of human nature to want to gather to his breast things that sustain him (hunter gatherers) but when he shifts into bargain hunting mode he loses his identity as a human being, ancient or modern, and becomes a fire snorting dragon that has no gentleness about him (or her)…You can’t blame the retailer for tring to make a buck, that’s his whole intent in life, the end result of capitalism. Instead, if you must blame someone for their idotic behaviour, blame the whole human race, for being what they are, CHEAP!!!