But by the time I started working at a big-box electronics store, Black Friday fever had begun to descend on us all. And as such, retailers marketed the holidays more and more as the sole contest through which to prove how good a loved one you were. As if good Christmases (or relationships) were based on the acquisition of a TV or DVD box set or logo hoodie. As if any of us are worth merely the sum of our expenses.
And worse yet, it pits everyone against each other. Where Boxing Day always felt like an adventure in spending gift cards and Christmas money with friends after days of family-only extravaganzas (and still does, let me have this), Black Friday became the capitalist Hunger Games. By courting long lines to amplify the demand for extremely limited deals, stores pit customers against each other. And then, to highlight the frenzy the day ends up breeding (see footage of people running into Walmarts or Best Buys), those same customers are often videotaped and laughed at, as though trying to buy something at an affordable price is a punchline. As if the working class responding to the one day they’ve been given to buy what they’ve been told their worth hinges on is hilarious. As if the pressure we put on everyone to create the perfect holiday via rabid consumerism isn’t the result of a system that sets up the majority to fail.