Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Death

According to the breaking news this morning, a Walmart worker was trampled to death after opening the doors at 5am to the sales-maddened throng waiting outside. Other sources are reporting that a woman also miscarried after being knocked to the ground.

Other shoppers were upset when the police closed the store afterwards.

Does the thought of saving $200 on a flat-screen television equal losing any sense of humanity? Does common sense get tossed out the window, so much so that nobody even conceives the danger that is mob mentality?

I can't blame the slumping economy for this. Black Friday Blitzes have always been marked down as a "must do" date on many calendars, along with weddings and birthdays and the Fourth of July. The huge variety of electronics and other gadgets, items that supposedly are to make our lives easier, or objects to distract us from life in general are usually the main items that cause many to storm the castle of consumerism. Really, how exciting does a Black Friday Sale on Fruit of the Looms sound?

I feel that the stores that perpetuate this atmosphere of MUST HAVE NOW!!! are culpable. The masses are spoon-fed weeks before with "leaks" of one-day sales. The "first-to-have" title when new games or cell phones are released also play into the Sheeple mentality.

"I got the new iPhone!"
"Well, I stood in line for ten hours so I could be the first one to buy it."
"You're the man, dude!"

"I knocked down three shoppers to be one of the first people in Walmart!"
"You're the man, dude!"

Really, are these stories we want to be regaling to our grandchildren someday? "I survived the Black Friday Blitz of '08!" As it is, some Walmarts hand out pins emblazoned with past Black Friday survival stories to their employees as a badge of honor.

Shopping as "Survival of the Fittest". I'm waiting for the new reality show, coming soon to a network near you. But, it's worse. It's "Shopping as Bloodsport".


  1. It's not the fault of the store. As a store owner I would try to attract as many customers as possible.

  2. I can't argue that point. The main goal of a business is to make money. That's how the world works. There just has to be a sane medium, a better promotion, something. Maybe better control of the situation. More than one worker to deal with a massive crowd.

    My eldest daughter works at a 24 hour Walmart, so they don't have the problem of hordes of people bum-rushing the door all at once. They just aimlessly mill around the store for hours until 5 am, and then head for the items they want. It's still a melee, but it's more controllable.

    Obviously shopping doesn't bring out the best in people. I suppose the retailers don't dictate that people act like rabid dogs in these instances, but they sure reap the benefits regardless.

    I realize after a cool-down that if Black Fridays didn't work, there wouldn't be Black Fridays.

  3. I attend at least one free concert a year (an American military band and choir come to our town to perform). Because entry is free, seats are unassigned, and . . . you guessed it: when they open the doors the crowd turns into a mob.

    People who wouldn't think of elbowing another person push and shove their way to a seat that is one yard closer to the one they would otherwise have gotten.

    I've seen little old ladies scratch and claw each other over a piece of penny candy thrown at the crowd during a parade.

    Mob psychology is one of the more interesting aspects of psychology. I started looking into it when I realized it drove the stock market. People in mobs don't think entirely for themselves; they join a kind of collective consciousness. Like the Borg.

    Resistance is futile.