By Caleb Keith –
Thanksgiving week is the worst time of the year for tech. This is almost single-handedly the fault of Black Friday. Black Friday is that one pitifully atrocious day of the year when humanity loses itself to shopping deals. The star of the show is almost always discount T.V.s, computers, and other otherwise pricey electronics. Stores like Walmart and Best Buy feed on our carnal desire by offering insane promotions limited to the first one-hundred people through the door. Not only are the prices amazing, but they are exclusive. They scream at us through commercials and Facebook begging for us to join the club.
Black Friday is the butt of many jokes; my favorite by far is in season 17 of South Park. I don’t know how many readers can stomach the ugly profanity that is South Park, but the show’s lack of filter and willingness to go too far really demonstrates the disgusting nature of the issues they so often mock. This is no more true in any episode than it is in the Black Friday parody. The brutal Black Friday scene starts with the cartoon figures slaughtering each other over toys, T.Vs, and PlayStations. Then in a hard-hitting twist the cartoon disappears, and real footage of Black Friday shoppers comes on the screen. Not quite as gory as the cartoon, but just as savage these real life people seem to have left their humanity at home when they drove to the store.
I don’t know how long Black Friday sales have been this bad, but I do know the extensive cost and the extensive desire for technology can’t be helping quell the insanity. At the heart of Black Friday is the deep desire of frugality and our urge to always get the best deal. The merit of penny pinching has always been lost on me. I completely understand the need to save money for economic reasons. Yet I do not believe being frugal alone is a virtue; it must be accompanied by some virtuous purpose. Black Friday is a perfect example of this. Black Friday tells us we can have what we want, at the price we desire, so long as we leave our virtue at the door. You can penny pinch this Friday joining the herd of human meat camped outside the Walmart doors, or you can spend the hundred dollars more on that T.V. and keep your dignity. We can’t have it both ways. Now don’t get me wrong, there are defiantly more reasonable ways to be frugal this holiday season, ways that don’t include stampeding through a store. Yet shopping with the idea of frugality rather than the idea of grace is, in my mind, a bad way to go about gift giving.
Going gift shopping should be more about finding something your loved ones want or need than wondering if you are spending too much on Johnny or Janey. Now, I know that this is not sound financial advice and that we all have spending limits. What I am really asking is that we apply love before we apply limits. Christmas, after all, is about a limitless gift of love and salvation. Let’s give thanks this Thanksgiving and soon Christmas season for the ultimate gift of God. A gift not purchased on Black Friday but secured on Good Friday.