Without question, if there is anyone who doubts how sickly consumerist our society has become, just take them out to the nearest Wal Mart or Target in the wee hours of Black Friday and I’d bet anything their doubts would be quickly wiped, or perhaps trampled away. As stores have opened earlier than ever before for this Black “Friday,” people waited in line for hours, crowds shattered glass doors of stores, two people were shot at a Wal-Mart in Tallahassee Florida, and there were literally violent mobs of people in Georgia, seemingly uncontrollable by security guards. When I clicked on the link of a video of the scene in Georgia posted on LA Times, it led me to youtube, where, surprise, there were a number of other links of crazy scenes from Black Friday. If I didn’t know better, I would think these people hadn’t eaten in weeks and were fighting for food. It’s absolute madness.
CNN even brings a psychologist in to provide tips on how to avoid giving in to this tremendous pressure applied by the retailers.
Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere’s tips include “don’t buy what you already have,” and make a list and “stick to it.” Sounds like a lot of common sense to me. He discusses the “subliminal seduction” that retailers use, as though they were trying to get shoppers to join some kind of cult.
Having learned about the housing bubble and the financial crisis of 2008 and then seeing videos, pictures, and reading articles about Black Friday it really comes as no shock that what happened did happen, and that people acted as they did. Who can blame the hundreds, if not thousands who were at fault? After all, these investors, lenders, bankers, etc. were doing what these people in these videos were doing on Friday, except in perhaps a seemingly slightly more civilized manner; clamoring over each other, pushing everyone else out of the way for the best deal to consume and have more, while saving more so you can be richer, and I guess buy more later. We are all human beings, driven primarily by incentives and governed by the ever-present, inexhaustible need for more, more, more.
What about giving thanks? What about enjoying being with family? What about the workers who maybe would actually prefer to be with their families? What about the effects our actions will have on others, if not immediately, then farther down the road? Two people were SHOT at Wal-Mart. Have our moral compasses been suppressed entirely by our needs to consume?