Black Friday is incompatible with Thanksgiving spirit

Each Thanksgiving, thousands of bargain hunters across America line up outside retailers in preparation for the biggest consumer holiday all year: Black Friday. Stores boasting extended hours and slashed prices have fostered such chaos surrounding the sales in the past so much that it has divided the population on the day’s place in our society.

Some shoppers see Black Friday as a great opportunity to buy gadgets and designer brands for a fraction of normal prices. However, the consumer may be being deceived or made to have unrealistic expectations.

Many ads surrounding the day are misleading; a close look at the fine print of some can reveal that there are limited quantities of certain items with no “rain check,” or backorder, alternative. Most other days of the year this deceitful advertising would not be tolerated.

Black Friday has also turned into a sort of contest about who can have the most fun or stay out the latest, fueled by social media. Facebook and Instagram posts correlated with  #blackfriday reveal photos showcasing piles of shopping bags and long lines. Snapchat, the photo sharing app, even had an “Our Story” that was Black Friday themed, allowing users all over the world to send in pictures of their adventures and purchases.

This kind of “one-up” behavior encourages not only excessive spending, but a competitive nature that can turn dangerous. Of course everyone has heard the horror stories of the depraved late-night crowds, but it is nevertheless unacceptable and should not be encouraged.  Instances of fighting, pepper spray and even gun violence have been witnessed during the choas. In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was killed by a stampede and four other people were injured, including one woman who was eight months pregnant.

This year, a shooting occurred the evening of Friday, Nov. 29 in a Chicago Nordstrom between an employee and her boyfriend. She was injured and taken to the hospital before he fatally shot himself. Scared shoppers fled the scene and a dangerous frenzy ensued.

In addition, the same day, two women in Norwalk, Conn. took part in a pushing and shoving match over a Barbie doll, and reportedly even stooped to physical violence, punching one another in the store.

Unfair competitiveness can otherwise be seen between the companies themselves.

Big coroporations that can afford to slash prices and widely advertise for weeks surrounding the sales easily demolish all other businesses. Small and local establishments do not stand a chance between retailers like Wal-Mart, Macy’s or Best Buy; they simply cannot keep up.

Another issue with Black Friday is that commercialism is encroaching on the family holiday of Thanksgiving. Stores go back and forth boasting earlier and earlier hours until their employees are forced to work during the holiday and shoppers pressured to wait in lines that evening.

For instance, Old Navy boasted a 31-hour stretch of business spanning from 4 p.m. Thanksgiving evening to 11 p.m. on Black Friday, which was surprising for a clothes retailer. In addition, stores such as Wal-Mart, Big Lots, K-Mart and Bass Pro Shop are open at 8 a.m. or earlier on Thanksgiving morning.

One alternative and even more fiscally-successful idea to Black Friday is Cyber Monday. As is common knowledge, the Monday following Thanksgiving is when many online retailers offer their best deals all year. This is clearly less dangerous than hand-to-hand combat in a superstore or facing the cold outside while camping out for a flat screen.

In addition, Cyber Monday does not encroach on holidays or family time and still provides deals for the consumer and profit increases for companies while leveling the playing field.

Such competitive and money-oriented behavior by corporations and consumers who thrive upon the hype surrounding  Black Friday dismisses the true meaning of this holiday­—thankfulness—and replaces it with greed and materialistic values.

People should instead value what they currently have, instead of lining up for hours and disregarding time spent with loved ones in order to buy new things.

Rather than being jealous and materialistic enough to punch a stranger for a Barbie, we should instead feel grateful for all the good fortune that we already have.