Photo: By Michael Holden on flickr
As the New York Times points out, the best deals aren’t always on Black Friday. But Black Friday isn’t just about getting good prices. After all, for most of us an extra 10 or 20 per cent off isn’t really enough to motivate us to stand in the cold and dark. When else would we put up with hardship, sacrificing time with our families, standing in neat columns, and planning out a line of attack?
It’s obvious now.
We shop on Black Friday because it gives us the psychological boost and sense of purpose that war does.
Think about it:
People want to take a part in a national event: Americans do not have ethnic or religious unity. We move across the country constantly. We have hundreds of television stations. Consequently, we have very few common rituals or events. Black Friday has become a common ritual. People really enjoy the excitement of participating in a major event that is happening across their nation. Even the people that hate Black Friday make themselves part of it through their derision. Black Friday mobilizes the nation.
It is a target of opportunity: Many families who need to get ready for the holidays already have packed weekends. Parents have to bring kids to birthday parties, sporting events, college-tours, dentist appointments and sometimes even get haircuts for themselves. Black Friday is an off-weekday. That means it is a time “to get things done.”
People love telling war stories: Because we mostly purchase cheaply manufactured presents at stores, rather than craft something ourselves, we want the gift itself to have a more dramatic and personal backstory than the laws of supply and demand or the container ships running across the Pacific. And so we have to brave the long lines, stay up all night, and dodge pepper-spray. Just think of the craziest Black Friday shopper in your family. Don’t they just relish telling their shopping horror-stories through Christmas dinner?
Plus, a good Black Friday war story can guilt someone into appreciating a crappy gift.
We tell ourselves we ‘sacrificed’ for our children’s sakes. Sure, we bought a new HDTV instead of the hot-toy that is actually on our dear one’s list. But we saved some amount of money through your hard-work and discipline. This makes us a virtuous people. As long as our credit-card clears through checkout we “Win.” And winning is a sign of God’s favour on our cause.
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