30 Reasons I Ignore Black Friday

Yesterday, in case you hadn’t noticed, is Black Friday -- America’s legendary shopping-day-of-all-shopping-days. The sales are unprecedented, the shopping hours are extended, and hey, it might even help nurse our battered economy back to health. But me, I may get through the day without buying anything more costly than a Diet Coke. I love saving money on gizmos and gadgets as much as the next technophile, but I’ve never found Black Friday alluring -- in fact, I take a great deal of pleasure in ignoring it.

How come? Lots of reasons, actually.

1. There’s no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime price. In fact, everything on sale today will eventually be available at prices as good or better every day of the year. So why rush?

2. I don’t wanna run the risk of encountering massive discounts on things I’ve recently bought at full price and getting all depressed.

3. Even in pleasant Northern California, lining up in front of a strip mall at 2am to be first in line for a 4am store opening in late November involves a real risk of frostbite.

4. Shoppers scrambling for insaaaaaaaaaaaaane sales always makes me think of old movies and/or cartoons involving swarms of women whacking each other over the head with their handbags and bopping each other in the snoot as they fight over discounted girdles.

5. They also make me think of tragic madness-of-crowds phenomena such as soccer disasters. There may be no recorded instances of mass casualties involving consumers squabbling over $40 GPS units, but I don’t want to risk it.

6. Even as I write this, genuinely horrifying news items about this year’s Black Friday are emerging.

7. The name “Black Friday” is strangely discordant for an event you’re supposed to want to participate in. Wikipedia reminds us of these other Black Fridays, none of which were exactly cheery:

Black Friday (1869), the Fisk-Gould Scandal (24 Sep), a financial crisis in the United States

Haymarket affair(11 November 1887), four Chicago anarchists hanged, without evidence, for the deaths of seven police officers during a labor meeting

Black Friday (1919), the Battle of George Square (31 Jan), a riot stemming from industrial unrest in Glasgow, Scotland

Black Friday (1939), a day of devastating fires in Australia (13 Jan)

Black Friday (1944), a disastrous attack by the The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada (13 Oct) near Woensdrecht during the Battle of the Scheldt

Hollywood Black Friday(5 October 1945), a riot at the Warner Bros. studios stemming from a Confederation of Studio Unions (CSU) strike leading to the eventual breakup of the CSU

Black Friday (1978), a massacre of protesters in Iran (8 Sep)

1985 United States-Canadian tornado outbreak/The Barrie Tornado, (May 31, 1985)

Edmonton Tornado(July 31, 1987), a tornado touching down in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Black Friday (1982), the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands, sparking the Falklands War

Black Friday (Maldives)(2004), a crackdown in Maldives, Malé (13 Aug) on peaceful protesters

8. The name “Black Friday” also reminds me of Black Sunday, John Frankenheimer’s 1977 movie about a zeppelin-propelled terrorist attack on the Super Bowl.

9. Come to think of it, the name reminds me of any unfortunate historical event whose name had a disturbing adjective and a day of the week in it, such as multiple Bloody Sundays.

10. I need to save my dough for all those Cyber Monday sales coming next week.

11. I’d rather spend quality time at home with friends and family in front of a cozy fire. Assuming that I can find anyone who isn’t spending the entire day at Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, and/or Wal-Mart.

12. Fairly or unfairly, bizarre irrational discounts also remind me of car-dealer scams -- you know, the ones involving something like a $12,995 Toyota Camry that’s trumpeted in ads but is impossible to buy. I assume the “best” Black Friday deals work something like that.

13. I have these paranoid fantasies that manufacturers somehow keep track of which products were bought dirt cheap on Black Friday and provide intentionally cruddy tech support and warranty service to those buyers.

14. We’re in the middle of the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression (at least!). I need to save my money for necessities. Most of which you can’t plug into the wall, and none of which have high-resolution color screens.

15. Also, if I’m going to end up living in a refrigerator box, I won’t have room for a 52-inch HDTV anyhow.

16. It doesn’t seem unrealistic to assume that retailers are heading into a disappointing holiday season and may therefore have to resort to multiple Black Friday-like sales between now and Christmas.

17. And then hold post-Christmas sales that are at least as crazy.

18. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to buying things on credit, so “No Interest for 18 Months Storewide“-type deals don’t get me excited. I’m just not willing to plunge into years of debt to have a better TV picture or more channels of sound.

19. A little piece of me dies every time I steer my shopping cart to the front of a store and find lines snaking right past the jewelry counter into the lingerie section.

20. The Google search “Wal-Mart stampede” returns 167,000 results.

21. This (2011 version!):

22. I belong to AmazonPrime, which means I can get almost anything Amazon sells shipped to me overnight for $3.99. No waking up at 1 a.m., no frostbite, no stampede, no lines into the lingerie section.

23. Skipping Black Friday is a virtually painless way to convince yourself you’re part of the anti-consumerist movement. Leaving 364 other days each year to do what you will.

24. I kind of assume that the best products are the ones least likely to be offered at bizarre, irrational discounts.

25. The first known reference to Black Friday dates only from 1966; if humanity survived for that long without it, so can I.

26. Those of us who are self-employed should really be working today. In my case, that means writing this post.

27. Almost by definition, next year’s Black Friday deals will be better than this year’s. Why not wait and reap the rewards?

28. With the economy in the shape it’s in, I’m waiting for the even better deals that will surely be available at going-out-of-business sales held by major retailers who will be forced to liquidate after disappointing Black Friday sales.

29 I love my car and don’t want to expose it to the Death Race 2000-like madness to be found in mall parking lots today (and, probably, every day through Christmas eve).

30. I’m still shaking off my Tryptophan-induced coma from yesterday.

And with that, I think I’ll take another nap. Happy shopping, everybody!

Harry's timeless take on Black Friday shopping initially appeared in Technologizer on November 28, 2008.

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