By Josie Aja and Lauren Chipdey
Thanksgiving, a wholesome day meant to express your gratitude for your family, friends, and all that you are fortunate enough to have. You sit down with your loved ones, share a fantastic meal, state all that you are thankful for; and then you book it out of there to camp out in front of a Walmart. It is endlessly ironic that a day that is meant to be a celebration of gratitude has become the precursor to a day of gross mass consumption, entirely invalidating any sentiment of satisfaction or thanks expressed on Thanksgiving.
Everyone loves a good sale, and with recent prices through the roof Black Friday can be a lifesaver to some. However, this “holiday” promotes a culture of wasteful consumerism, one that could prove fatal for our society and planet.
While Black Friday makes expensive necessities and luxuries more attainable, an issue arises when people feel compelled to buy products they do not need simply because they are on sale. By their very nature, discounts encourage people to spend more. They evoke happiness in your ability to find deals, making you more prone to spend money and feel sound in your decision, as lowered prices rationalize the purchase. They also create a sense of urgency, as consumers feel that the offer is limited, eliminating time needed to deliberate.
Some use Black Friday as an opportunity to indulge in an extravagant item they have had their eyes on for some time, as junior Ash Mert said, “I bought expensive headphones that were on a huge sale. I’ve been wanting these for a while, but if Black Friday wasn’t a thing I probably wouldn’t have gotten them as soon as I did.”
Others, however, make less strategic decisions. Sophomore John Iacono said, “On Black Friday I always end up buying something that I don’t actually need. It’s fun to shop, so I spend money on things that I don’t need, and then I don’t feel as bad about myself either because it’s cheaper…It feeds my shopping addiction.” Month long online sales enable shoppers who rationalize making frivolous purchases because of the low risk of buying discounted items.
Though Black Friday once entailed a day of hectic and sometimes violent in-person shopping for just one day, it has morphed into an entire month of discounted online shopping. Not only are discounts available for a longer period of time, but they are much more easily accessible, as those who may have been deterred by the large crowds and long lines are able to shop from the convenience of their own homes, making purchases with the click of a button. Senior Joshua Ofori-Akansah stated, “I’d definitely shop online, in person shopping is just so chaotic…you get to the store and a normal store like Walmart has lines around the block. Standing in the cold…it’s crazy and the people there are crazy.”
However, the simplicity of this process can be problematic as many fail to realize the gravity of making an online purchase. The quick and easy process makes it feel like you are not really spending money, preventing people from fully processing the purchase they just made, and making them likely to spend more. People often make purchases without thinking, because as they are not making a physical exchange of money, they do not see any immediate consequence to their purchase.
Discounts are an effective tactic to increase sales, but what kind of impact is this mass consumption having on our environment? Every pointless Black Friday purchase results in yet another discarded item, condemned to eternity in a landfill. Due to the nature of thoughtless purchases made during Black Friday sales, items are bought without the explicit intent to make them last, and are scrapped after few uses. People are driven to make purchases not by their merit, but their low prices. “I definitely will [make Black Friday purchases], and I feel better about my purchases because I know I’m getting them for a good deal…” stated junior Kaylee Edgar. “If I get it for cheaper I don’t care as much about it, so I’ll throw it away if it’s useless.” While this is a very common mindset, in the long run it may have adverse effects. This cycle of aimless consumption is a contributor to overproduction and excessive waste, and will have devastating environmental effects. Companies’ tendency to disguise this level of spending as partaking in the “holiday spirit” is misleading, and a dangerous attitude to promote.
Black Friday is an enticing concept due to such convenient shopping at irresistible prices. It caters to people who may not even consider themselves avid consumers and tempts them to make purchases that they normally would not if the item was at full price. This day is a perfect opportunity to buy that pricey commodity you have had your eye on for a while, but make sure you think twice before investing in a pointless purchase, even if it is at half price.