Why Black Friday is a Scam

Black Friday isn’t cool. 

I know it’s a common complaint among many people recently about the hypocrisy of celebrating what we are thankful for, just to go to face huge crowds to buy more stuff hours later. But I think we seriously need to analyze what exactly the purpose of Black Friday is, and realize it is just a marketing plot from corporations. 

The concept of Black Friday has cleverly convinced many people to wake up at ridiculous hours the day before Thanksgiving, or sometimes even exit Thanksgiving dinner early, just for the sake of taking advantage of these “deals.” 

Marketing techniques make it seem like these deals are way too good to be passed up, and sales like these will never exist ever again. But they come back all the time, pretty often throughout the year. 

Though I have only been Black Friday shopping once for the experience, my obsessions have led me to believe these “deals” really aren’t too special. 

So why is Black Friday still a tradition in the United States? And why do so many believe they must rush to stores to drop large amounts of money on material goods that they likely don’t need? 

The thing is, this “marketing plot” works. In fact, it really works. 

I have plenty of family members who are perfectly educated, intelligent people who are able to see the wrong in our culture, yet they still feed into these schemes from corporations, using them to get us to spend money. 

It almost seems like the people who work in marketing and advertising are on a different level of intelligence than the rest of us. This is because they are using their intelligence to manipulate others into spending their money mindlessly, all for their own personal gain. 

Okay, I’m obviously not saying everyone who works in business, marketing, and advertising is plotting to make the rest of us recklessly spend our money for their benefit, but they definitely are still following the somewhat-immoral model made by those at the very top. 

Then again, we live in a capitalist country. So doesn’t that mean manipulating others into spending their money for our own gain is a normal practice at this point?

I challenge you reading this to look at your own spending habits. Why are you buying the things you buy? What convinced you to buy the things you got? Have these things made your life any better? 

Last fall, I took a civic engagement class (CAS222) where our professor assigned us to watch a documentary about a group called The Church of Stop Shopping. This group, though not really a church, puts on public demonstrations persuading people to “stop shopping.” 

The “church” is led by a man who goes by what is essentially a stage name, Reverend Billy. The “reverend” and his followers frequently protest outside of locations of major corporations to create a spectacle about the dangers of shopping and falling victim to marketing schemes. 

They may seem humorous (seriously, I love them; just search them on YouTube), but they carry serious messages about the exploitation of workers, and the huge corporations causing local businesses to struggle. 

The Church of Stop Shopping seriously resonated with me. We viewed it right before Christmas, so I was now looking at all of those corporation Christmas-ad campaigns a little differently.

This may be cliché, but I really think we should be using Thanksgiving to appreciate what we have, the people surrounding us, and the experiences we’ve gone through, rather than blindly following what corporations tell us to do, whether it’s through them selling, or us buying. 

Since watching this documentary, it has led me to seriously evaluate my spending habits. I’m not saying everyone should never buy anything ever again (obviously), but instead, look at why you’re buying these things.

It may even make you a bit richer and happier than any money ever could.