The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

Black Friday Bad

Consumerism Worse
Black Friday sign, photo from Unsplash

Every year the consumerist demons that inhabit each of us get stirred awake by a day that sounds more evil than Halloween, that day being Black Friday. Less than twenty four hours after so many of us had just sat at a table around family being very thankful for all that we have, we are lured into malls and retailers by the equal and opposite idea that we simply don’t have enough. For some, this is just an affordable means to get done with Christmas shopping early or a huge discount on a shopping spree that was already going to happen, but for others (like me) this day can only mean a show of devotion to humanity’s insatiable greed. 

I’m also left thinking that this year’s ritual came and went without much fanfare, and that Black Friday was just another day in a long, much-deserved weekend. Long gone is the excitement to stock up a shopping cart, to race others through the isles to find exactly what I and a dozen other people are looking for, to spectate the occasional five-man brawl over Legos, and to sit through hours of traffic for what should’ve been a fifteen minute trip home. That people are now deciding to stay home and play with their dogs instead of acting like animals over children’s toys should be a universally positive change, but unfortunately it seems that we’ve traded one base instinct for another.

Instead of retailers luring millions of Americans into stores with deceptive markdowns on a particular day of the year, our economy of impulses and short attention spans instead spits out dozens of these huge savings days throughout the year. For example, Amazon had Prime Day twice this year, other online retailers have Cyber Monday, apparently there’s also Super Saturday the week before Christmas, and there’s seasonal savings for just about every holiday –  I mean really, apparently Groundhog Day sales are not uncommon in the United States.

You might speculate that Americans are just less and less inclined to put off all their purchases until Black Friday, but if that’s the case then that might be an even worse form of consumerism-related brain rot. All that says is that people are so addicted to their doctor-prescribed ‘retail therapy’ that they’re willing to pay more for less. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t bother with coupons, loyalty programs, or sales most of the time – but as college students in enough of a financial crunch as it is, we probably owe it to ourselves to pinch a few pennies here and there.

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Don’t mistake what I’m saying as me asking you to go and spend money on Black Friday for the sake of it, or that you ought to abandon all material concerns and adopt the life of a Tibetan monk. Instead, use Black Friday and other big savings days like it to make your usual, necessary shopping less expensive. Also it’s just generally good advice to recognize your actual budget and make each purchase based on what you need and want instead of on impulse or a convincing markdown. The best kind of saving that is available, during the holiday season or at any other time of the year, is to not spend when you don’t have to.

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