Ah, Thanksgiving weekend. Time for mountainous heaps of food and road trips to see family members who tear at your will to live.
And, of course, shopping.
While bargain hunters storm the castles of Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Gamestop to the horror of the retail chains’ unfortunate employees, you could spend quality time with your family. Maybe your grandmother will knit a nice new scarf for you while she rants about LBJ and compares President Obama to Emperor Nero.
Instead of spending hours donning urban camouflage gear, pitching the $400 tent you bought from Dick’s and camping in suburban parking lots in anticipation for crazy Black Friday deals, you could be doing something far more enjoyable. Maybe staying home, playing some video games in peace?
I’ve never understood this part of American culture -- granted, it’s not the only part but I digress -- that we’d give up an entire day to go shopping, braving people zoos and fool corrals in the hopes of saving a hundred bucks on a TV and maybe fifty on a game system. Do we really believe that this is the only time, nearly a month before Christmas Day, that we could obtain the electronic devices we lust after?
Black Friday itself is a horrendous experience from either side of the cash register. Before I was a writer, I worked in retail from my teenage years until my early twenties.
I worked birthdays. Easter. Thanksgiving Day. Christmas Eve. New Year’s Day, even after I turned 21. While none of those days were particularly enjoyable, they paled in comparison to Black Friday. Normal, mostly civilized citizens transformed into physical manifestations of greed, pushing and arguing over bags of dog food that had been discounted 30 percent. And for what? A few dollars saved? Even if we ran out of a particular item, it would likely be restocked before the holidays. If you were buying a present, there was still plenty of time.
Were this a zombie apocalypse and we were raiding stores for food items, I’d understand. But Americans kill each other every year on Black Friday, trying to buy nonessential items. We trample one another for 55 inch LED TVs and whatever the hot gadget of the season is (this year, the PS4 and Xbox One). Lives are lost for pieces of plastic and circuit boards.
But now, Black Friday isn’t just one day - many retailers opened on Thanksgiving night to give the hungry shoppers an even earlier jump on their deals. The holiday has become a 36 hour shopping extravaganza, complete with glittery lights and employees wearing a hybrid expression of despair, feigned enthusiasm, and homicidal impulse facetiously greeting patrons.
I can’t help but laugh at the show of patriotism. After all, what’s more American than Thanksgiving and consumerism?
Some retailers bundled current-gen consoles with games for the “holiday,” so it might be worth dropping the cash if you’ve been wanting something. But it must be asked - why bother wading into the cesspool of pugnacious WalMart stormtroopers (who are as equally apt as their Galactic Empire counterparts) when the deals will be offered online? Thanks to the little miracle we know as the Internet, you could purchase pretty much anything you want while laying down with your laptop open, picking crumbs out of your beard and wiping your hands free of corn syrup detritus on your Halo 4 shirt.
Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, Walmart, Target - you name the shop, they’ll be running similar if not better sales online throughout the weekend and Monday obviating any need to participate in the Black Friday charade.
You’re better off staying home (if you’re lucky enough to have the day off from work) and spending time with the people you love, doing something you all enjoy - video games, perhaps. There are plenty of party games on all of the current gen systems, and you can even get digital versions of tabletop games like Monopoly. Nobody can cheat and steal money from the bank, and what’s normally a 4 hour affair can go as quickly as 45 minutes.
Or you could break out Wii Sports and challenge your sister to a few rounds of baseball, confident of your victory. Until she starts whacking everything you throw into the upper deck. Either way, you’ve still had fun, and you haven’t spent the night camping in the middle of winter just to be first in line for a game.
Simon Pegg had the right idea:
Go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.
Tech reporter and on-air personality. Ambitious, but not rubbish. CUNY J-School alum and fan of all things that go vroom.