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Black Friday, Conspicuous Consumption, And Manufacturing Greed As Need

It was difficult to decide which video of those Diane collected I should use for this post, but ultimately this one won. I chose it because it so clearly illustrates the mad frenzy whipped up by our corporate overlords for unbridled greed and

It was difficult to decide which video of those Diane collected I should use for this post, but ultimately this one won. I chose it because it so clearly illustrates the mad frenzy whipped up by our corporate overlords for unbridled greed and consumerism.

What disturbs me most about all of these WalMart frenzies are how children stand at the front of them. Look at those kids lunging for that videogame they simply must have either because it's five bucks less on this day than it is any other. And their parents, setting such a terrific example. As Susie said in her earlier post, industries create a culture of want, and one specifically aimed at young people.

These stores run these Black Friday promos at a loss in order to lure customers into shopping for other, regular retail items. They crank up the public relations machine and start priming the pump really early. I've been seeing Black Friday ads since mid-October, and those are for online and storefront retailers.

Understand something: It's not the product as much as it is the deal. It is the enslavement of consumer to product, or product vendor. It is a way of inducing a purchase that in less fevered circumstances, would likely not be made.

Efforts to help turn the focus away from this kind of feeding frenzy like the Small Business Day promotion this year seem anemic in comparison to the monolithic push to appeal to people's worst instincts. Tell them they're going to save twenty bucks on a cellphone package that isn't discounted on any other day of the year, and they're waiting in line for 24 hours or more. How is this good for anyone?

We already know it's terrible for the workers. Spending 24 hours in line for a deal that amounts to less than $100 doesn't seem like a particularly effective use of anyone's time, especially when that 24-hour period is Thanksgiving Day. It would be so very simple for retailers to offer deals like this throughout the year, but no. They make this one day, this one Friday, the high holy day of consumer greed and deals in order to foster the ensuing belief and desire of those people that they absolutely must have that shiny thing in order to be happy.

Part of this is my own internal bias. There is absolutely nothing that could induce me to get within five miles of any retail store on the day after Thanksgiving. Nothing. But also, I truly dislike "events" that encourage people to behave like a pack of dogs, ripping apart everything and everyone standing in between them and their "deal."

It seems to me we could and should counter this with some public relations efforts of our own. Suggest gifts, for example, that aren't always that "new shiny thing." Perhaps spend the day after Thanksgiving working on community projects to make old bicycles new, or spruce up the neighborhood park, or make a skate ramp for kids, or something that produces, rather than consumes.

Kids survive when they don't get their shiny thing. They might not have much to look forward to if we keep believing the myth of the deal and the lie that we must buy, and especially, we must buy on "Black Friday."

As consumers, we have the control to boycott Black Friday past, present and future. We should do it. The economy will survive if we don't gorge ourselves on "deals."

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