It’s the worst part of America. Well, it’s a lot of the worst parts all rolled into one. It’s consumerism, materialism, competition, and, in some cases, just plain violent. Black Friday. It’s brought out a terrible side of what should be a lovely time of year. Don’t get my wrong, Thanksgiving has horrific roots in genocide and a retelling of history that doesn’t deserve to be celebrated. But I have often though that America was on to something in the idea of a modern holiday that isn’t based around gifts. That, unlike Christmas or birthdays or Valentine’s Day, was just about spending time together. I thought having a holiday like Thanksgiving, that brought people together without, you know, masking a nation’s horrors, would be a lovely thing.
But it wouldn’t be. Because look what we’ve done with Black Friday. We’ve taken a holiday that, at least in its modern incarnation, is about family, and we’ve encouraged people to leave the dinner tables to go shopping. And they actually go. Sales slowly crept in from being on Black Friday to being at midnight before Black Friday to starting at 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day. People don’t even celebrate the holiday because they’re so focused on (maybe) discounted big screen TVs and another useless video game. What have we done? And, perhaps the biggest question: Why on earth is the UK doing it too?
I was baffled and saddened when, a couple of years ago, after years as an American living in England without a hint of stampedes or frenzy at the end of November, Black Friday suddenly appeared on this side of the pond. Of all of the things you could import from the US, this is what you picked? Really, England? I’m annoyed with you. And I’m sorry. Because there is nothing to be gained from bringing this into a society. This is the dregs of humanity.
Luckily, it hasn’t taken off to match America’s fever pitch. After the occasional stampede— and I cringe as I write that so literally— and a few overblown sales, the novelty wore off quickly. In fact, in some places, Black Friday in the UK has been downright… British.
— Frankie McCamley (@Frankie_Mack) November 24, 2017
I am so happy to see the traditional British restraint has triumphed against this over-blown, hyperbolic onslaught of consumerism. Hopefully enough apathy directed at this circus will eventually force it to pack up and leave town. Because there shouldn’t be any place for it— not in America, not in the UK, not anywhere. We have enough stuff. Hell, we have too much stuff. It’s a huge problem. But the idea of adding to it no matter what, of stampedes and queues and shouting and midnight sales, is sickening. We should be better than that. On both sides of the pond.