Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Different Options Exist for Black Friday

Illustration by MaryAnne Bowen

Welcome back, folks. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend, because I’m here to question your decisions. Not all the turkey you devoured, not the fights you enjoyed with your extended family and not even the shenanigans you got up to with your friends at home. Nope, I’m here to talk about retail’s favorite day of the year: Black Friday.

To the broke college student, Black Friday has a fair amount to offer. The mall promises cheap luxuries we otherwise couldn’t afford –– what’s wrong with that? There is no inherent problem. But Black Friday is still more trouble than it’s worth.

Who decided that the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrating family, friends and peace, should be an annual display of hedonism pockmarked by violence? Why, every year, do millions of Americans arise from food comas to push each other against big-box store doors like the squealing hordes in zombie movies? Why do we perpetuate this meaningless tradition even though it has brought our nation four deaths and countless injuries in just the past five years? Plenty of people die and are hurt every day. The truly frustrating thing is that, instead of condemning Black Friday, we have made it a part of our culture. We mock Black Friday year-round, joking about how outrageous it’s gotten, and yet once a year we still stampede into big-box stores in search of new TVs. We know it causes stupid, unnecessary deaths, and we continue anyway. It’s sickening.

Our much-beloved former president George W. Bush told us that excessive holiday shopping was our patriotic duty to the economy. He’s not alone in endorsing Black Friday as a trickle-down stimulus package. But these economic theories rob Peter to pay Paul with the halfhearted assumption that Paul will give Peter a slice out of pity.

Writing for a school newspaper at a liberal arts college in Washington state, I’m acutely aware that I’m preaching to the choir by ranting about the evils of supply-side economics. But dogma and doing are very different things (as I touched on in my last column). So instead of using my soapbox to preach against Black Friday, I’d like to bring attention to some alternatives to sitting outside in the cold, preparing to do battle over a new shelving unit.

For starters, Cyber Monday, where shoppers bring down retailers’ servers rather than their doors, is a godsend to college students, and not just because it usually doesn’t involve violence. Despite having to deal with shipping and handling costs, the time and effort saved to interact with your family rather than countless other angry shoppers is worth the money. And delivery saves you the hassle of packing your new purchase to take back to school. If you absolutely have to join the commercial blitz, do it the sane way.

And if you want to buy while being conscious about from whom you buy, small businesses are the foundation of successful supply-side economics. By contributing to local businesses, you contribute to the community, rather than to the destruction of the global economy. Small Business Saturday, the day after the mayhem, is designed to do just that. No lines, no broken limbs, you can sleep in and you may just find a gift for Mom. Win-win-win-win.

Finally, my favorite Black Friday alternative: non-participation. Break is meant to be relaxing, a time to catch your breath before charging right back into school. Eat a turkey sandwich and the last of the pumpkin pie. Hang out with your friends and family. You have all of winter break to freak out about gifts. What’s the hurry?

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