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EDITORIAL: Gratitude dies on Black Friday

Black Friday consumerism counteracts the gratitude we should be showing on Thanksgiving

Arguing with fellow shoppers over a TV on sale may not be the most productive way to show your gratitude the day after Thanksgiving.  – Photo by Ashkan Forouzani /

The dawn of Black Friday is full of apprehension. Will you be able to fight through the crowds at Best Buy for a new TV? Will Walmart have enough lawn chairs on sale to satiate all consumers? Will your credit card chip be accepted at all registers as you maraud your way through America’s malls? You can only hope.

Just think that hours before setting your tent up outside of the Apple Store you were having dinner with your family, enjoying cranberry sauce, passive-aggressive conversations with your mom and your weird great-uncle’s stories from childhood. 

Thanksgiving is a celebration centered around family and being grateful for what you have, immediately followed by a free-for-all where you spend hours and hundreds of dollars buying everything you can for as cheap as possible. What could be a more antithetical way of giving thanks for what you have than to replace all your belongings with new ones and trample retail workers and fellow shoppers in the process? 

The history of Thanksgiving is dubious at best, but taken at face value it should be a holiday that turns us away from impulsive shopping and toward a long weekend spent with family and friends. The question that should be in your mind is: Why is Black Friday placed in such a morally awkward calendar position?

The original use of the phrase described a market crash in the 1800s and was then used again by Philadelphia police to “describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game.” In the late 1980s, retailers started to use the phrase “Black Friday” in the traditional sense. 

The day has become fully ingrained in our society, anticipated by consumers and companies alike. It is a day feared by retail workers everywhere, as Karens run wild. A Black Friday death count keeps track of all deaths throughout the years, complete with an honorable mentions section. To date, 17 people have died.

Consumerism runs rampant on Black Friday, with little benefit to the consumer.

“(Twenty-four) percent of shoppers regret their Black Friday bargains,” according to The Independent. We end up spending more money than we normally would on things we do not actually want or need in an event that is nationally hypocritical.

The growth of Cyber Monday makes it even easier to spend money on things we will discard or return later on, while also consuming more resources as junk is brought directly to our doorstep.

A focus on consumption and affluence has come with “slightly less happiness and much greater risk of depression and assorted social pathology,” according to the American Psychological Association. Extrinsic goals like buying things can lead to unhappiness in relationships and psychological issues. On the other hand, spending time with others and performing acts of kindness can lead to “higher levels of psychological flourishing.” 

Instead of participating in Cyber Monday or Black Friday, look out for deals on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. Support small brick and mortar stores in your area, because they need it most. What better way is there to show your gratitude for your community and families in your area than to support their businesses? 

Abstain from impulsive purchases during the holiday season. Make a list of things you actually need beforehand and keep an eye out for deals on those items. Do not spend money on things you otherwise would not.

More importantly, use this season to spend time with your family and friends instead of department stores and mall parking lots. The time spent with loved ones and a good meal is worth infinitely more than any buy-one-get-one deal ever could be. 

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 153rd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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