The Bleak Black Friday

Ok, here's a little bit of soap box, and a little bit of information for you. I've worked Black Friday in retail before, and anyone who has had to work it will tell you it sucks. A lot. Personally, I make sure I don't have to go to any store on Thanksgiving, making sure that stores have less of a reason to keep people from their families on the holiday.

Black Friday on the other hand, is a whole different story. It has become such a huge celebration of shopping that I avoid stores for my own sake. Stores are so packed it's not even worth trying to get in or out unless I absolutely positively need something. In which case I try to plan ahead for what I need so as not to get caught in that trap.

But let's get on to some numbers, and some real food for thought. In fiscal year 2012, shoppers shelled out a whopping $59 billion over the Black Friday weekend. NASA's entire budget for 2012 was only $18.7 billion. The American Red Cross operated in 2012 for $3.2 billion. We spent more on general shopping for one weekend than we did for humanitarian aid and even more than our entire space budget. For the entire year.

Now, I'm not saying having some good deals is a bad thing. But we've created such a shopping culture that it's more important to us to have a weekend of good deals than it is to help our fellow man or advance our sciences. What's even more sad is that many of the electronics people are buying wouldn't be possible without the very same space program we are neglecting. 

I simply hope that we can shift our attention to more important things, and let Black Friday just be a fun weekend of decent deals. As opposed to the single most important holiday to America. And if you think it's not a holiday, you're kidding yourself. It's more of a holiday than Thanksgiving is now.

Take a little bit to remember what's important to you. Is it the pair of skinny jeans you found on sale at JCPenny's? Is it that tablet or TV you really wanted that was on sale at Best Buy? Or are these things accessory to the rest of your life? Just take a minute, and think. Keep on shopping, but remember that money could be used elsewhere. That effort and man power needed to get you those deals could be used elsewhere. 

Like me or not, I hope it at least made you think. Remember: E Pluribus Unum.