The Dark Side of Black Friday

Toward the end of November, the air is getting chillier and there are colorful leaves slowly falling from trees. There are snow flurries dancing their way to the ground. As Autumn comes to a close, people all over the country celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. This festive holiday is a time for family, friends, pumpkin pie, and of course, turkey. It is a time for all of us to give thanks and be grateful for all that we have in life. However, in the recent years a new event has sprung up. It is almost a holiday on its own. It is the day after Thanksgiving, or more commonly known as Black Friday.

Black Friday is a day when many retail shops and department stores drastically drop their prices to attract customers. Many of these customers are shopping for the upcoming holiday season or just because the prices have never been lower. There are deals and savings on numerous items. From electronics to clothes, just about everything is on sale. All of the shopping gives this event a bright outlook, but there is a dark side. Due to the spectacularly low prices, a great number of people come to shop at their local retail stores. Usually, a large amount of people gather outside the doors of stores waiting for them to open. There have been stampedes, shootings, and fights inside and outside these stores on this particular Friday. In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes proposes theories about the state of nature and the human nature of people. He says that the actual state of nature for people is a state of war and that people are inherently selfish. The way people interact with each other during Black Friday is a perfect example that proves Hobbes’ theories.

Even though it is the season of happiness and giving, it seems as though Black Friday brings out the worst in people. For example, in 2008, at a New York Walmart, over 2,000 people stampeded into Wal-Mart before it even opened. The group of people blasted the door open and ran over the Walmart employees that tried to stop them from coming in. One Walmart worker was trampled to death while other workers and some customers sustained many serious injuries. No one had any concern for the fallen people. It seems as though getting a good deal was worth more than someone’s life. All of those shoppers were being selfish and just thinking of themselves and the things that they wanted to buy. They were acting true to their human nature and only in their own self-interest.

On that same day, all the way on the other side of the country, a shoot out occurred at the local Toys R’ Us store in Palm Desert, California. At the toy store, two women got into a bloody fight. Apparently, it was so bad that their husbands felt the need to pull out their handguns and start a shooting match right there in the store. All of the customers ran out of the store and the two men chased each other up until the cash registers where they traded multiple shots before dying. Instead of talking things out or just walking away from the fight, these two men decided to revert back to Hobbes’ state of nature and make war.

Black Friday should be a time to gift others and yourself, of course, with expensive items (at not so expensive prices). It’s not a time to fight and stampede. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all that we have. Be safe, enjoy shopping, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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2 comments

  1. kevingay3 · November 28, 2014

    I thought that this was an interesting take on Black Friday. My gut feeling is that you shorted the reason people are shopping – it is for Christmas in order to give gifts to others. Yes, people do go shopping for themselves, but the majority of the shopping is done in order to bring happiness to others. I do agree though that there is a lot of selfishness involved because people are shopping on this day in order to pay less for things and companies are doing it so that they can make more money due to the sheer quantity of things being sold. Overall, I think this was a very good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. maxmcquaid · November 28, 2014

    I really liked this post. When I was having Thanksgiving dinner with my family, my uncle pointed out how that only in America is there a day where everyone goes out to buy a lot of new stuff the day after we are supposed to be thankful for what we have. I believe that Black Friday is a good representation of Hobbes’ state of nature. While some are buying gifts for others, people naturally start fighting when there is a limited amount of a resource.

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