Whence Consumerism

On so-called Black Friday, a part-time worker in Valley Stream on Long Island was trampled to death when a horde or perhaps mob of discount seekers stormed the doors of a Wal-Mart during a 5 am “door buster” promotion.

This promotion lived up to its name.  The workers proved a little tardy in opening the doors and the amped up consumers, some of whom had been waiting outside in the cold since 9 pm the evening before, busted the door and in so doing knocked down the worker who was then trampled to death as approximately 2000 people stormed the building like cows down a chute.

Now people are trying to fix blame.  Some hold the mob responsible.  Other shoppers described their fellow shoppers as “barbaric animals.”  Many kept on flowing in apparently walking around the body of the downed worker and impeding police when they tried to help the young man.

Others—including individuals and the Union representing the slain worker—hold Wal-Mart responsible.  According to the union leader, this would not and could not have happened had Wal-Mart had sufficient guards on hand to control the movement of the crowd.

Meanwhile police are looking through surveillance tapes to see if they can spot and identify consumers who might have been directly involved in the trampling.

I don’t know who might be to blame.  I have never attended a “Black Friday” door buster.  I made fun of the practice when discussing how Black Friday got its name in class but one student objected saying she had attended such pre-dawn events with her mother and that it had been fun and a bonding experience.  I expect this is possible.  And others said they had fun experiences shopping.  I expect this is possible too though I have never experienced it.  Finally, I can’t stand crowds.  I assiduously avoid places where people gather in large number.  I consider a crowd anything more than five people.

So in light of my personal experience as arising from personal inclination, I don’t know how to assess the situation.  As far as I am concerned anybody who gets up before dawn to make a purchase is nuts.  But I am also concerned about 5 am "sales events" advertised as “door-busters.”


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