Freshman year of high school, I begged my mom to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, start the minivan in the bitter Minnesota cold, and drive my sister and me through winding bluffs of snow and ice. Doesn't that sound like an adventure? It was. In fact, it was a mission. The objective? Armed with meticulously-planned shopping lists and piping hot chocolate, obtain five-dollar sweaters and ten-dollar winter boots. Survive the physical fight through the Target doors. Go home with long receipts and relatively full wallets. Black Friday circa 2014 was intense.
Today, frankly, no one really cares about Black Friday. Around this time last year, CNN Business published an article posing a daring question: "Is this the last Black Friday?" And, when taking the "retail apocalypse" into consideration, the slow death of Black Friday makes sense. More and more brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to close (rest in peace, Toys 'R' Us) as a result of consumers shifting their focus to online shopping.
Essentially, people seem to prefer online shopping--from the comfort of their heated homes and cozy couches--over the chaos and lines of traditional Black Friday shopping. By my senior year of high school, the idea of waking up early and waiting in line outside of retailers didn't even cross my mind. I saw a sale on a DSLR camera, and I stayed up until two a.m. to buy it online. This year, I won't go Black Friday shopping at all. Beyond losing interest in it, I've grown to hate the rampant consumerism of Black Friday.
An article from The Guardian, written by Stuart Jeffries, analyzes the psychology behind Black Friday's "consumerist circle of hell." Most significantly, Jeffries refutes the idea that material possessions cause a rise in happiness. We're all guilty of fixating on a new pair of shoes or a new phone, convinced that they and only they will make us happy. This is an illusion created by retailers in order to manipulate the human brain with the motive of selling products. Surrendering to materialism won't make us feel better, it will actually make us feel worse.
Jeffries quotes The High Price of Materialism, stating, "Strong materialist values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people's wellbeing." Materialism can result in depression, anxiety, personality disorders, narcissism, and more, according to the book. Especially on Black Friday, retailers attempt to capitalize on materialism, and as the public has become more aware of this exploitation, sales have declined.
Why is Black Friday dying? Consumers will no longer fall for it. They will not respond as strongly to materialistic advertisements as they would have in the past. They will not wake up early and wait in freezing lines when, if they really want to shop, they can do so from the comfort of their couch. They will not waste their time.
This Black Friday, consider taking a break from tradition. Enjoy a Thanksgiving meal without the stress of impending chaos. Take time to rest and do things you enjoy during your break from school. Black Friday is optional, and, this year, it's all but irrelevant.