Ace Sindico, Staff Writer
For many consumers and retail employees alike in the USA, Black Friday (the fourth Friday of November) is seen as a great opportunity to spend some hard-earned cash on Christmas presents for your loved ones; sales and discounts are ample. For others, it’s seen as a grand showcase of the evils of consumerism. But what causes all this hysteria and anticipation?
What started off as an optimistic development has turned into a savage and chaotic annual occurrence. If you were to search up “black Friday” on YouTube, you would find many of the top results bear words in their titles such as ‘chaos’, ‘disaster’ and’ brawl’. Other than the occasional haul video and the random video out of context, they consist of people fighting over products, rioting and causing havoc. In 2009, a Clarksville Toys ‘R’ Us employee died as she was trampled by 2000 raging customers, preoccupied with making the most of outrageous sales.
How did this all start and why is it called Black Friday?
There are many myths that surround its name. But it is commonly agreed that it was to first indicate to business owners the shift from red to black. Red commonly signifies losses in sales, while black means gain and profit.
Many incidents throughout history have helped establish Black Friday as the phenomenon it is today. As World War II ended in the 1940s, many young people were coming back from the war and looking to rebuild society by creating large families. This resulted in the Baby Boomers, a generation of people looking to instill values of happiness through prosperity. (This generation is often criticized for their excessive consumerism.) By the 1960s, the majority of the Baby Boomers were young people with abundant Christmas spirit and an excessive need to spend. At the time, many department stores took the opportunity to capitalize on this. They sponsored parades, which still occur to this day, that largely campaign Christmas advertising. These occur the day after Thanksgiving, encouraging consumers to start Christmas shopping in their stores.
During the late 1960s, a great boom in the economy occurred, with the late John F. Kennedy vowing in his presidential campaign to “get America moving again”. Although he was assassinated in 1963, in 1966 his tax credit was able to reduce unemployment by 3.7%. By the end of the decade, the average family income had risen from $8,540 in 1963 to $10,770 in 1969.
You may ask how significant Black Friday is in present day America. According to statisticbrain.com, it was calculated that in the USA alone 133,700,000 people shop in stores or online on Black Friday. $659,500,000 was spent within 24 hours in 2014, with the average person spending $380.95. With the internet becoming ever more convenient, it seems that this trend of splurging on luxuries and extravagant goods on Black Friday will only rise in popularity.
Money and materialism is such a significant part of modern Western society. But does having more than you need really provide us with happiness? According to yahoo.com, many of the places rated as the happiest on earth are in Europe, even with the recent economic downfall that the continent has experienced.
So is Black Friday and the concept of giving at Christmas really necessary? Or is it true that to be truly happy, we must first appreciate what we have?
In conclusion, to each their own. But in my mind, Christmas is about appreciating what you have, and cherishing the people you love. Put on some joyful festive music, and give abundant love and support to the people who need it this holiday season. No fancy car or brand-new phone can beat the gift of genuine affection and appreciation.