As a legal studies major who’s taken no small amount of sociology courses, I cover Marxism and capitalism at least once every term, and I could probably fill an entire opinions page rambling about the ways capitalism and neoliberalism have had negative consequences on our social system and even justice system’s structures. Even so … good lord, do I love Black Friday and all of the unapologetic consumerism that follows in its wake.
I love going through my inbox and searching Google in the week before to track down the best deals. I love looking down at a store’s Black Friday offerings in derision and saying, “Please, I could get this for at least $10 cheaper over at [other store whose flyer I’ve been studying instead of working on my final assignments]!” I even love watching videos of people going apeshit and reverting to their base consumerist urges in department stores after lining up since 4 a.m. to buy a big-screen TV that we all know they don’t really need that badly.
I like Black Friday more than most holidays — Easter and Thanksgiving, you’re OK, but aside from some post-holiday unwanted chocolate and turkey available at discount prices, what are you really doing for my wallet?
In the end, for all my flyer-browsing and deal-delving, I think I spent less than $100 on Black Friday deals. I don’t actually spend a lot of time or money on the real Black Friday, and I have exactly zero interest in trying to maneuver the mall madness that comes with trying to buy things in person. So what is it that I really like about Black Friday?
Could it just be the truest form of retail therapy? There’s something intrinsically fun about seeing things at massive discounts, even if I don’t have any plans to buy them. It doesn’t hurt that Black Friday coincides with one of the most stressful times of the year for university students — maybe Black Friday’s just therapeutic for me? It’s like the consumerist version of therapy dogs, though with less fur and more fur-ocious savings.
On the other hand, maybe there’s a bit of schadenfreude to the whole situation? I love watching the lengths people will go to in order to save a little bit of money, how they’ll turn on their fellow people and become a POS just to be the first to the POS. On one hand, as someone on a student budget I get the need to cut costs at all costs, but it also makes me feel a bit better as a person to see Black Friday turn into a fiasco. I might be an awful person with horrendous time-management skills, but at least I’m not waking up at 3 a.m. to be the first to trip someone on the way to that 50 per cent off microwave.
Or maybe it’s just that in this mad world where Donald Trump can be elected president through a (relatively) fair election, the only thing I can truly rely on from humanity is for them to throw away their humanity almost immediately in the face of some pretty good deals on excessive goods.
My most likely theory, however, is that I’m putting way too much thought into this.
Either way, Black Friday’s great. Holidays shouldn’t even be worth celebrating if there’s not some capitalist element to them. Fortunately that only disqualifies like a third of them, anyway.
4A Legal Studies