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.
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.