Today is Black Friday, a day dedicated to our basest and most pathetic inclinations. The day after giving thanks for all that we have, we turn around and jump through horrible hoops to accumulate more at the insistence of sleazy, desperate retailers. It's a nice summation of everything wrong with this country and the holiday season, an appropriately named cancerous mark on our calendars. Our behavior today is the sort of thing an alien race would use as justification for our destruction. Let's run through the specifics, shall we?
1. Deals in Exchange for Dignity
You know what sucks? Not being able to afford something you really want, like an HDTV, unless you sacrifice your dignity by camping out in front of a mall in below-freezing temperatures on a night that should be spent with your family. The insane early-hour doorbuster sales force people, especially people with lower incomes who rely on discounts and sales, to physically suffer for their purchases. No cheap Blu-ray player is worth that.
2. May the Worst Man Win
Once you've spent the night camped out in line in front of a store, knowing full well there aren't enough discounted plasma TVs to go around, you turn into an animal. After all, if you leave empty handed you've wasted your entire night. So when those doors finally open, you don't have a line of shoppers—you have a line of bloodthirsty, vicious monsters that aren't afraid to throw a few elbows to get to that pallet of merchandise first.
3. Everyone Stinks of Desperation
In previous years, it was the shoppers who were desperate on Black Friday, with retailers playing the role of sleazy opportunists. But now, with a financial crisis in full, brutal swing, both sides are equally desperate. The retailers need the shoppers as much as the shoppers need the deals, putting a lot more on the line for everyone involved this year. It's a sad situation, one that lends an extra air of patheticness to the whole ordeal.
4. Bait and Switch
One thing that's consistent throughout all the Black Friday ads we've seen is that there aren't actually many good deals to be had. Every store offers up a handful of legit deep discounts, of which they have an inadequate supply. They get you into the store with these deals, but unless you slept on a sidewalk the night before, you were basically suckered into coming in for nothing, nothing but the retailer's hope that you'll stick around and buy stuff at full price, like an idiot.
5. You Don't Really Want This Crap
Even if you do score what you came for, they're probably not actually the things you want. They're what you'll settle for. You've had your eye on a Garmin with voice command or a Samsung with LED backlighting, but they're not on sale. So you suck it up and instead buy the more gimped Garmin (or even a TomTom) or the Samsung with the crappier contrast CCFL backlight. You can't justify buying the top product when the step-down is so insanely discounted. Black Friday has totally removed the satisfaction of researching a particular product and buying it because you really want it.
6. Seasonal Employees are Idiots
Every holiday season, retailers hire fresh meat to work for a month or two to help handle the rise in demand. Guess what? They don't train them very well and these seasonal workers could give a shit about the company they're working for. Bad combo! When you're trying to buy something expensive like an HDTV, you want to ask questions from someone who both knows what they're talking about and at least has a mild interest in you having a positive experience. Seasonal employees provide neither of these things.
7. There Will Be Blood
Every year boatloads and boatloads of people show up for Black Friday sales, and every year retailers can't handle it. Maybe they won't be set up for the line and it'll be disorganized, leading people to fight for spots. Or maybe the registers will go down, leading to insanely long waits to check out. But something will invariably go wrong—very wrong—making your shopping experience even worse, if that's even possible.
8. The Kickoff of the Advertising Clusterfuck
Nothing ruins the holidays like advertising. Every year it gets more cynical, with fat guys in Santa suits promoting everything from beers to debt consolidation. You can't turn on the TV without being assaulted by some schmaltzy crap designed to twist your positive memories of the holiday season into an impetuous purchase. Nothing flushes my feelings of goodwill towards my fellow man down the toilet like seeing a line of Walmart cashiers playing Christmas songs with their register lights.
9. Buying Presents Sucks
This might be a dickish point, but come on. Deep down, you agree. Going out and shopping for other people is no fun. Sure, giving stuff to people feels great, but the actual act of going to a store, finding something and buying it and then not actually having anything for yourself to justify this sacrifice? It's for the birds. Holiday shopping is a hellish, hellish experience, and the warm fuzzies you get from giving someone a gift don't quite make up for the shitshow it requires you to put up with.
10. You're Poor
Seriously, what the hell are you doing buying this stuff anyway? You don't have any savings, you live paycheck to paycheck and if you haven't been laid off yet you probably will be soon. Just because something is cheaper than it usually is doesn't mean you have to buy it. You can go into debt just as easily buying shit when it's on sale as you can buying shit when it's full priced. Don't get suckered by advertising. Give yourself the best gift of all this holiday season: being fiscally responsible.
More Advice for the Black Friday Fray:
• The aforementioned Ultimate Survival Guide.
• 5 Gadgets You Can't Skimp On (And How to Save Money Buying Them)
• <a href="Best of Black Friday Deals Complete Roundup">All the best deals in one place
• Plus these late breaking ones from Cupertino: Apple Black Friday Deals Include Some Decent Third-Party Discounts
• Warnings: 7 Crappy Black Friday "Deals" That Aren't Really
• How To Choose an HDTV on Black Friday (or Any Day)
• How to set up that new HDTV you just got.