As seen in the Nov. 26 issue
Max Stahl, comment editor
Nielsen, the information company famous for its TV ratings boxes, forecasted on Nov. 18 that 85 percent of American consumers will not go shopping on Black Friday this year, up from 82 percent in 2012. Instead, Nielsen predicts, 46 percent of consumers will wait until Cyber Monday and do their holiday shopping online, a 16-percent increase from last year.
America, what gives?
Black Friday was our day, our celebration of money and things. Yes, people will still be spending tons of money on tons of things this year, but from the safety and comfort of their own homes, using their reliable and relatively nonviolent computers. Call me a purist, but without the human interaction — without the pushing and trampling and macing and yelling and brawling and fainting and shooting — it just won’t feel like Black Friday to me. If no one gets run over by an SUV this year, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back into the holiday spirit again.
Those laminated wristbands the massive retailers dole out to avid shoppers were a sacred commitment to American consumerism. The brave souls who donned the wristbands had pledged to uphold this nation’s holy doctrine of quid pro quo — so long as the quo outweighed the quid. Black Friday was our sacrifice to the capitalist gods, and they demand blood. What are we to do this year if we fail to appease them? What will become of our fragile economy if this year’s Black Friday sees no fatalities, not even one poor sod trampled to death beneath a stampede of holiday frenzy?
It could be the end of America as we know it. As you should’ve learned in history class, the decline of Black Friday in a nation is directly linked to the rise of communism. It happened in Russia, it happened in China and it happened in Cuba. Had those countries had more holiday spirit (or, in other words, spent more money on Christmas gifts), Lenin, Mao and Castro would never have come to power. The same could very easily happen here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. If we don’t keep buying more and more, if we become satisfied with our already-immense prosperity, if we stop clawing at each other and pulling guns on each other over 80-percent-off coffee makers, perhaps we deserve to be called “comrade.” Never mind that practically everything lining the shelves of Walmart and Target was manufactured in the People’s Republic across the Pacific. This is about sticking to your guns and not taking no for an answer and asserting your freedom of choice and… and…happiness, man.
Big business knows what makes you happy, or at least it used to. In 2011, Walmart began luring consumers away from their families Thanksgiving night so they could get a head start on their Black Friday shopping. But, as Nielsen indicated, the appeal may be dwindling. Are you seriously going to tell me, America, that you’d rather spend Thanksgiving with your family than with strangers you’re willing to elbow in the face so you can get a new wireless mouse for your computer? You see, this is why we’re gonna fall to the commies. This is why we’re the laughingstock of the rest of the world.
America, you’re losing your edge. You need Black Friday. You’re not just failing your consumerist gods and your nation; you’re failing yourselves. You’re deluding yourselves with the notion that the holiday season should be a month of peace and sharing and family. You’re leaving yourselves vulnerable to your feelings, to your thoughts, to the things that have meaning beyond their dollar values. You’re changing your character. You’re growing soft. You’re growing up. But, you know, whatever makes you happy.