The black sheep of holidays

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Ah, Black Friday: the only time of year when being part of an angry mob is considered socially acceptable and no one will question why you’re in front of the doors of Target at 3 a.m.  Black Friday has become a U.S. tradition, but is it really one that we should keep around? Behind the veil of 50 percent off discounts and door buster deals, Black Friday has a rather black and ugly inside.

Black Friday has become infamous for causing injury and death. The website blackfridaydeaths.com recorded seven deaths and 98 injuries from 2006 to 2014 in Black Friday-related events. In 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death in New York City. The same year, two men shot each other at a Toys “R” Us in California and in 2011, a woman pepper-sprayed 10 people over a video game sale.

Black Friday is a risk to both shoppers and employees. There’s also the physical and mental stress of the event. Shoppers either wait up all night or get up extremely early to rush to the doors of the stores for sales. The employees are forced to do likewise and have to deal with the oncoming onslaught of the mob of crazed shoppers. The shoppers themselves have to fight through waves of other shoppers in order to make it through the event, while the employees have to do their best to maintain order. It’s a heavy toll on the body and mind and leaves everyone exhausted by the end of the day.

Black Friday has deeper effects than just the risk of injury. Black Friday warps people’s mindsets. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday that celebrates coming together and family, but this one day turns all of it into a no-holds-barred cage match over a flat-screen TV or some other commodity. It doesn’t help that some stores start Black Friday on Thanksgiving so people will be together at the table one moment, then immediately take off for the shopping centers in a fit of frenzy for discounts and bargains.

Black Friday turns groups of calm and happy people into discount-hungry animals. The very environment of Black Friday makes people overspend and over-shop. The deals and promises of discounts entice people to things they normally wouldn’t spend money on. It doesn’t matter how expensive the original item was as long as it’s on sale, right? Many of these excessive items inevitably end up being returned in the days following the craze when the shoppers come back to their senses.

While Black Friday may seem great on paper, its implications aren’t. Black Friday is a chaotic show of smoke and mirrors that baits people until they realize there’s nothing behind the veil. Despite low prices, Black Friday is a tradition that should be avoided at all costs.

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