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The Arrowhead

The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Arrowhead

Con: Faux holiday harms environment, threatens limbs

Despite its massive popularity, Black Friday causes nothing but harm to everyone except the uber wealthy. The “holiday” is a meaningless, wasteful front put on to raise money for corporations.
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Selah Fink

By promoting the concept of “Black Friday,” corporations have created a de facto holiday that serves nobody other than themselves, often causing irreparable damage to both shoppers and the environment.
Black Friday is an idea created in the late 20th century in the East Coast’s major cities as a way for businesses to draw extra foot traffic earlier in the Christmas season. Retailers host large-scale sales to try to draw shoppers into their stores earlier, and to artificially shorten the gap between the Thanksgiving and Christmas commercial seasons as much as possible.
It is a shameless, hollow holiday akin to Valentine’s day; it was designed by businesses, for businesses, and only for them.
And in leaving no room for anything other than the highest possible profit, corporations tend to let consumer safety standards slip.
Often, malls and retailers fail to properly prepare their staff for the onslaught of people brought about by Black Friday sales, and as such, violence related to the holiday is commonplace. Countless videos can be found online of melees, fistfights and shouting matches caused by a dispute over TVs or refrigerators.
In some cases, it’s sadly gone even further, such as in 2020, when two unarmed teenagers were shot to death in a Sacramento mall. It’s reached the point where a website, BlackFridayDeathCount.com, has been set up to keep track of notable incidents of Black Friday related violent crimes, which can’t be said for many other major holidays.
Aside from the human cost of Black Friday, the environmental impact of such a drastic increase in consumerism mustn’t be ignored.
With the rise of the internet and online shopping, many online-only retailers such as Amazon have created their own addition to Black Friday called Cyber Monday. During Cyber Monday, which takes place the Monday after Black Friday, online retailers host massive sales, often slashing shipping rates, delivery fees and general prices across the board.
This generates massive jumps in sales, but also brings about alarming spikes in carbon emissions.
Researchers at the University of Leeds estimated that in 2022, Black Friday and Cyber Monday accounted for up to 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the U.K. alone.
Online retailers also commonly use non-biodegradable packaging to ship their products, such as single-use plastics that end up in our oceans and forests. As such, increases in sales often directly lead to massive waste problems that will continue to damage our ecosystems for thousands of years.
So why, if Black Friday presents such glaring faults, has it become such a cultural sensation in the West? The answer lies in psychology.
We, as humans, are biologically hardwired to look out for beneficial deals; we produce dopamine and feel satisfaction when we feel like we’ve been clever in finding something cheap.
We also don’t want to feel like we’re the one missing out on Black Friday deals, especially if those around us are engaging with the holiday. Companies actively prey on this FOMO, advertising their sales with slogans like “One day only!” or “Buy now or it’s gone forever!” They create a sense of artificial scarcity, leading to consumers feeling almost obligated to participate.
Black Friday is a predatory, harmful “holiday” created with the sole purpose of making rich corporations and retailers richer. By participating, consumers feed into a damaging cycle that doesn’t even benefit them long term.
It’s time to end the madness. In a world where consumers and citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that their purchasing decisions have on society and the environment, Black Friday seems to have slipped under the radar, despite it’s outsized impacts.
It harms the environment more than any major holiday other than Christmas, whilst benefitting a tiny percentage of the uber-rich who, quite frankly, don’t need it.
In a world with a deepened understanding of humans impact on the world, Black Friday is an outdated, archaic tradition that we need to let go.

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Sam Kennedy, News Editor

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