The Dark Side of Black Friday

Remember what happened last year on Black Friday? People died. Some were injured, including a 28-year-old, eight-month pregnant woman. What does that say about our American culture? A lot.

The day after Thanksgiving has evolved from being a day to recover from overeating, which is in and of itself already a serious problem in America, to a day to shop until you literally drop, either from exhaustion or from being physically attacked by fellow shoppers.

Last year, chaos broke out at a Long Island Wal-Mart. At the Valley Stream Outlet, a stampede broke out that knocked several employees to the ground. One victim was Jdimytai Damour, 34 years old at the time, who was trampled to death.

Witness Kimberly Cribbs said that shoppers acted like “savages.”

“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since Friday morning!’” Cribbs said. “They kept shopping.”

It is ridiculous that anyone would want to continue to shop after they had just played a part, even an indirect one, in someone’s death.

In response, this year Wal-Mart will be open 24-hours and will enforce crowd-control measures on the holiday weekend. That does not undo the damage, however.

Although it was not the employees’ or the store’s fault that the fatal stampede took place, what could they expect after seeing a crowd of 2000 hyper-caffeinated people hoarded around the entrance like a mass of killer zombies? Did they not suspect that the situation could possibly turn into extreme havoc? A barricade of a few employees obviously did not stand a chance against the mob.

In a second unrelated incident that day, two men were shot to death in a Toys “R” Us in Palm Desert, CA. While Kathleen Waugh, spokeswoman, claimed that the shooting was a personal dispute unrelated to shopping, the speculative can only wonder whether or not the fight was ignited over the last remote control monster truck or Hannah Montana doll.

Black Friday tells us something about American society. It is apparent that consumers in our country have become affluent, ignorant and greedy. We have finally reached the point at which meeting personal material agendas outweigh basic human morals, and what we get is violence.

As citizens of a “first-world” country, Americans certainly have not proven to be good role models for the rest of the world. Everywhere one turns there is abundant food, all the technology and goods one could ever want. We, spoiled beyond repair, have become so accustomed to immediate gratification that the short and long term consequences of such materialistic avarice are disregarded.

Most Americans have already forgotten about what happened last year. Worse, most have failed to recognize the lesson to be learned.

Is it truly worth it to camp out all night to get first dibs on things you want, but don’t really need?

Freshman Chris Stevenson does not think so. “I’m going shopping that day, but I’m not waking up early to join in on the crazy frenzy,” he said. “It’s not worth it.”

Cost and worth are, indeed, two very different things. Before you make a long list of “stuff” to buy, reconsider the things you already have.

There could be nothing worse than a reoccurrence of last year’s mishap. Though the deaths and injuries were small in number, the cause was absolutely absurd. Retailers opening at 5 a.m., you have all been warned. As for the variety of ardent buyers, shop at your own risk.

Adrian Wong is a first-year business administration major. He can be reached at a.wong.chief@gmail.com.