Like many Americans, I indulged in that beloved tradition of Black Friday shopping over the past weekend. Before the sun even peeked out over the horizon, I was running frantically from shop to shop trying to find the best deals on sweatpants and whatever else I needed to stock up on for winter.
I understand that Black Friday is a very love-it-or-hate-it phenomenon. For extroverts like myself, it’s a way to be around a crowd of people, possibly run into folks you haven’t seen in years and spend time with loved ones in a setting that doesn’t involve the carcass of an oversized bird or those weird little jiggly cranberry things. On the other hand, the mall on that dreaded Friday is introvert hell. But that’s not the point of this column.
Go ahead and Google “Black Friday 2013.” The news is abuzz with stories of violence over such trivial matters like BOGO deals and who took the last whatever the hip new toy is this year.
A shopper was shot in Las Vegas after purchasing a big screen TV. In California, a fight broke out because of cutting in line. At a Wal-Mart in Arkansas, people duked it out over towels. Yes, you read that correctly – towels.
At some point you have to ask – is this really necessary?
There is a line that can be crossed on Black Friday. Camping outside of Best Buy to get the best deals? I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t judge you. Money is hard to come by, so if that’s the only way you can afford to have one of those fancy TVs, then do whatever makes you happy. The line is crossed, though, when violence is involved.
You can stir up debate after debate about the commercialization and secularization and trivialization of the holiday season as much as you want, but the truth stands. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah. These holidays should be about love, giving and celebration. Not jamming your fist into the face of some lady who snatched up the last Tickle Me Elmo.
We as a society need to learn to control our temper. Throwing punches may work in the comic book world, but Tickle Me Elmo lady isn’t the Green Goblin and you are not a superhero. Causing physical harm to another person in the name of bargain shopping isn’t just mean – it’s pointless.
One of the first things we learn as a child is not to throw a tantrum when we don’t get our way. Maybe some adults need to revisit those stern lectures. Starting fights in the toy aisle over Black Friday deals makes you no different from a whining toddler, except for the fact that you’re large and strong enough to hurt someone else.
The next time your temper gets the best of you, step back from the situation and give it a thought or two. Is it worth making this other person’s time miserable? Keep in mind that this person is likely someone’s mother, brother or best friend. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider all consequences and alternatives. Still worth it?
Consideration for the people around you is necessary for creating a more peaceful, effective society. If everyone behaved with such consideration, perhaps next year’s Black Friday won’t be marred with senseless aggressiveness.
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