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Black Friday is kind of a universally known event. American stores lower their prices for one day or a weekend to attract floods of customers to spend their money on anything they can lay their hands on. Many laugh at the concept…I personally did for many years of my life while living in the US, but is it really a laughing matter?

Upon looking up “Black Friday 2015”, a multitude of articles and news reports that talk about brawls in malls, or the analysis of different deals, pop up left and right. The amount of effort that goes into finding the “perfect deals” of the season or creating schedules to gain the most ground in different stores sounds slightly comical in theory, but it’s the truth for many. As crazy as this “holiday after a holiday” might seem…it still raises some questions that many people find themselves asking:

  1. Why is there a “holiday” that advertises materialism right after a holiday that tells people to be thankful for what they already have?
  2. What’s the point of Black Friday when there are still going to be sales all throughout the Holiday Season?
  3. Why participate in such a thing when your safety might be at stake?
  4. Does anyone actually buy things of use?
  5. Why go out to stores late into the night, when you can just wait until “Cyber Monday”?

And you simply can’t forget the favorite question asked all over the internet…

  1. Why are you Americans so dumb/crazy/weird?

While I can’t necessarily answer these questions concretely, I think there’s definitely one big thing that people might be missing. It might not be a completely dumb or selfish event. The motives for going Black Friday shopping are all supposed to be in the context of giving. Technically the “core” of Black Friday is to help shoppers get good deals and help jumpstart the process of Christmas shopping. In that case, it sounds like it should be a positively viewed time of the year.

Yet, considering how businesses work, we all know that that’s not the case at all. Different companies put these discounts and sales on their products not to help spread the holiday cheer, but to ultimately make all the money they possibly can. So it makes sense that as the prices go down, the demand for all these products will skyrocket. Is that something we should be ashamed of?

In all honesty, the amount of willpower and strength one needs to have in order to face the crowds is admirable, as crazy as it all might seem. To be able to get presents for other people with prices that one “would be crazy to pass up” seems like the optimal choice for many, and that’s why people take the jump into the craziness of Black Friday. I’m not necessarily siding with joining the rush of people that dash into their malls or fight at their local Best Buys, but I think when we consider the negative aspects of Black Friday, we might just be focusing on the wrong things.

Instead of immediately criticizing people for being materialistic and greedy, why don’t we question the standards that dictate that we need to buy all of these presents? But on the flip side, it is wrong to want to treat your loved ones, or even yourself, to nice things, when it’s going to be cheaper than it might normally be?

In the end, we’re selfish. Humans are innately self-centered creatures. Black Friday might just bring up the levels of aggression and selfishness in some, but that’s to be expected when they have an end goal in mind. To get what they came for and leave. While some might not need to, others want to try and get whatever they need, and if they need to find the right sales, then to each their own. Some people don’t have the time or expenses to be able to shop regularly to pick up a few items at a time during this time of the year, so this weekend might be the best chance they have to knock out a flock of birds with one stone.

But in the end, here are a few tips for Black Friday (and shopping in general) from an American who has never actually partaken in this tradition…

Shop like decent human beings.

Everyone wants to go in and get out, and acting like an animal will do no one any good.

No matter how much you want that vacuum or electronic good, there’s no reason as to why you should steal it from someone else.

Shop safely. Shop responsibly. Shop ‘til you drop.

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