An anti-anti Black Friday Rant.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Nov 23, 2012
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There’s a middle way between rampant cheap Made in China consumerism and condescending anti-whatever…amen to this constructive rant via my friend Tom!  ~ ed.

A note, via Tom: “I didn’t go shopping this morning either. I’m not saying people should – I’m just annoyed by all the hypocrites bitching about “consumerism” and how evil others are for shopping today.”

Rant: Anyone posting anti-consumerism/anti-“Black Friday” crap

…needs to take a minute and look around the room: $10 says you’re posting from a $1000+ computer or $400 smartphone. If you’re so anti-consumerism, why not use a computer at the library? Why not use pay phones? How’s that for an idea?

Reality: if you live in a relatively wealthy, modern society and you are a consumer – you buy and consume things. When you reposted a Facebook status/photo that contrasts “Black Friday” shopping with starving children in Africa, it makes you look like a shallow, hypocritical, attention-seeker. No one is forcing you to buy shit (why not participate in “Buy Nothing Day“?) but even if you don’t shop today, you are still a consumer.

Abstaining from shopping one day a year doesn’t change that fact, so stop calling the kettle black.


Bonus on-the-other-hands: “Why You Shouldn’t Shop at Walmart on Friday: A half century ago America’s largest employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits. Today, an average Walmart employee earns $8.81 an hour.”

And: Six More Reasons To Avoid Walmart This Holiday Season.

13 Buy Nothing Day Posters.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


21 Responses to “An anti-anti Black Friday Rant.”

  1. Paul says:

    I don't believe it is about Black Friday. It is about companies equating a season that is nominally about gratitude and reverence with fevered acquisition and consumer goods. People have come to act on that. We can't have a world that addresses the critical issues we face where the dominant motive is to get rather than give. Pretty simple. Whatever we write or say about the world is about ourselves. Buddhism 101. We see our own mind in everyone and all phenomena around us. My own take on the videos posted this morning of the rugby scrums on the floor of Walmart to get hugely discounted goods is a country that lacks a higher purpose. We all lose that sense of purpose at time in our lives. Here we see it in an intense and collective way. It is not a matter of judgment, but it can be a basis for each of us to reflect, and I think that is what you are getting at, and I appreciate that. Thank you.

  2. Great rant with some valid points. My own negative feelings about Black Friday are aimed (mostly) at the big name retailers that continue to shove consumerism down our throat. I don't watch much TV, but it's hard to ignore. Within my own rant right here on elephant there's a reference to consumers buying into it all. But who am I to judge and what am I doing about it? If that's how people want to spend their day off, that's their choice. I'm not the "perfect consumer" (sitting here on my PC, smart phone at-the-ready, husband and son watching Netflix in the basement on the big screen TV), but I do try to shop with sustainability in mind (not always successfully, but whenever possible). To me, Black Friday represents American over-consumption. It makes an easy target for those who would rather see conscious consumerism and support of local, small businesses as the norm. The problem of course runs much deeper with the gaping divide of haves/have-nots… how else are the less fortunate supposed to purchase holiday gifts if not on what is marketed as the biggest retail savings day of the year? It's a conundrum. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tom.

  3. Typo alert: I try to shop with "sustainability" in mind.

  4. Susan says:

    It is the fact people are willing to trample other people that bothers me, not the shopping.

  5. carolhortonbooks says:

    I resent the push to turn Thanksgiving into a shopping holiday tremendously. Growing up, I don't remember "Black Friday" at all. When was this invented?? And now this year, some stores are opening on Thursday. This is really bad – what about the workers who are forced to be there? What about all of us that need some time set aside from work and shopping – dedicated to simpler things like cooking and eating together with friends and family?

    Sure, the anti-BF backlash may be somewhat self-righteous, but . . . I'll take that over a non-critical acceptance of the consumerist takeover of Thanksgiving.

  6. BoulderJen says:

    The thing about Black Friday that makes me sick is not the consumerism. Sure, we all are consumers (although, my phone doesn't get on the internet & the laptop I use was provided by my employer). So what? What makes me sick is that people HURT others to get a good deal. I mean they physically hurt people to battle their way to the deals. That's the part of Black Friday & American society that is so disturbing.

    If people want to do that kind of thing the day after giving thanks for all they already have, that's their right. And it's my right not to like it. I don't fight about it, but I do try to bring awareness to others by posting something about it.

    Both the anti-Black Friday people (like me) and this anti-anti-Black Friday post are harsh & judgmental. Welcome to the unconsciousness of the human race. The only way to be conscious through it all is to not react whatsoever & love everyone. See no wrong in any of it. I'm not quite there yet. Doesn't look like you are either. Oh well. It is what it is.

  7. sorry…think you missed the point.

  8. BoulderJen says:

    Amen, Carol. I recall Black Friday being around in the 70's & 80's, only it was simply "the day after Thanksgiving" and while people shopped, it wasn't that big of a shopping day. The mega deals didn't start until this century. Somewhere in the early 00's, it became frenetic and it only gets worse. I'd rather not be judged & labeled at all, but if I must choose one, I'll also take the self-righteous one. Waiting in line for hours so I can push & shove my way to "more" that won't fulfill me or anyone else is not something I care to be in any way, shape or form.

  9. BoulderJen says:

    I am what most would call a "less fortunate". I struggle paycheck to paycheck just to pay the bills.

    I don't need Black Friday to afford gifts. Long ago, I decided not participate in consumerism & simply stop buying gifts out of obligation. My kids learned it early, as did my friends. My children no longer expect it. They would LOVE me to get them all kinds of stuff, but they understand I can't & won't. They know the holidays at our house is about love & gratitude. If I'm able to afford something, I will get them a small, thoughtful gift, but the likelihood is I won't. It doesn't mean I love them less & I want to teach them not to believe "more" will make them happy. So far, it's working.

  10. Edward Staskus says:

    Round 2 is coming up: Cyber Monday!

  11. valerie says:

    Stores need to convert to online Black Friday sales so people will not be put in such danger of being trampled or interacting with violent individuals. Then families can be home together, people can purchase their goods safely, and all the big companies still get their money.

  12. […] you haven’t already shopped your brains out on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, chances are you will be shop, shop, shopping your way through the holiday […]

  13. RobotJane says:

    Most people complaining about Black Friday are probably WORKING while other people get their nice long weekend with the family. It sucks to know that you have to be up at some ridiculous hour the very next morning (or in some cases, Thanksgiving night) to do your job of quelling the inexhaustible greed of your fellow man, when meanwhile, your own relatives haven't even left town yet, but people are getting great deals, so that's what matters, right? Retail workers should get a little time with their families. Sorry to Black Friday shoppers that you don't care enough about your family to spend the extra time with them. Doesn't mean that I want to be there serving you in your sickening display of the gimmes. So let me guess… Get a new job! Don't work retail, that's what you're signing up for! Well Black Friday was unheard of when I was a child, which wasn't THAT long ago… so maybe our values need to readjust. The flat screens will wait til Monday.

  14. Annabell says:

    I love this! My family started doing this when we all moved out on our own. Most of us can afford to buy a gift (or something small), but none of us need anything, its just out of an obligation society throws on us. We all agree to just send a nice card and call it a day. We save money and don't end up with useless stuff we won't use.

  15. Yes. We need to keep in mind that where we spend our money is like voting. Don't throw away your vote. Rather, be conscious and help boost the economy that you want to see grow. Also, just throwing this out there, the media loves a good trample story. I have never once in my life gone shopping on Black Friday so this is simply a thought, but it seems to me that this is like anything else: just because the loudest gets the most attention doesn't mean it's the majority.

  16. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Beautiful response! Thank you for articulating this so well!

  17. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Amen! You're teaching your children true value versus cheap price!

  18. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Indeed! The situation is worse for Canadians who get up even earlier to cross the border into the the States for what I like to call "Black Eye Friday", as it seems to put a black eye on the true value of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the good old pagan-Buddhist solstice celebration of the "Return of the Light" or "Children's Day". Keep it simple and the value of love, friendship, and being together, appreciating each other, replaces rampant, aggressive consumerism.

  19. amberlisa says:

    Exactly…that is the problem…and the fact that they are actually being encouraged in these endeavors.

    Last year a woman at Walmart was pepper-spraying people, and was called, by a Walmart Rep, "a competitive shopper." Really??? Seriously??? WTF?

    How about a felon…how about we call her a felon…

    Okay, pepper-spraying people is probably not a felony, but how much brutality can be justified…what if someone came to Walmart with a machine gun and just start splaying? Still competitive shopping?

  20. amberlisa says:

    So true…it is what it is and that is so sad for us all.

  21. amberlisa says:

    Waylon Lewis has a point though about how no matter what we do, here in America, we are all cogs in all of these massive systems that are not quite right, and even when we are educated enough and clever enough to figure out that they are not quite right, we can't escape them entirely – it's impossible.

    But we can try our best to do what's right, like Jennifer pointed out.

    There are so many reasons I rarely shop at Walmart, but first and foremost is the lack of humanity…you can feel it at the store, the way the workers are treated, the way people interact with one another…it is…to me, a sort of hell. Why would you voluntarily go to hell? I do prefer stores where the business model seems to take into account that their employees and their consumers are human beings.

    But if you delve deep enough into any American retailer's food chain, you are going to find some god awful dirty little secrets, somewhere down the line. Just by virtue of being American we all have some black Friday in us that we have to own at some level. Voting with dollars is somewhat of an option, but for most poor people choices are limited and Walmart is the place to be if your cash flow is low because the stuff is way cheap.

    Money is not love. Things are not love. But so many people in American society believe it to be so that these holidays, which are supposed to be spiritual in nature, make people sick and drive them crazy. I do feel blessed that I, for one, never could buy into the feeding frenzy. It always felt so depressing to me. Retail shopping has never fulfilled me. It is tedious, boring and has always left me feeling somewhat empty, unless the thing was something I truly "needed" i.e. useful, like a car, or food or wanted for a specific purpose (usually comfort).

    I haven't done black Friday since I was thirteen, (thirty years ago) and that is one of the things I am truly grateful for, not feeling compelled to do the Black Friday thing…or God Forbid- work it ):