Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Black Days indeed

I would have liked to write something about this sooner but I've been bogged down with end of term projects for my classes. Anyways as most Americans know, last Friday was "Black Friday," the biggest day for retail in the United States. It's the day that virtually every store is having one of their biggest sales of the year at the same time that everyone who shops their is starting their holiday shopping.

Yeah, it's a big deal for the video game industry, because the strength of sales on Black Friday can help indicate how strong of a Christmas season is approaching, but I just found myself disturbed by the events of this past Friday. I felt that competitive shopping that had always been described as vicious, had hit a new low when I heard that a Walmart employee had been trampled to death when he attempted to unlock the front door of the store. The crowd was so wild that medical help couldn't get to him to try to save him.

I've heard of some crazy incidents involving Black Friday shopping, but this past one struck me as little bit more perturbing than usual. It wasn't an altercation between two customers vying for the same product (which happened last Friday as well), but was actually the collective consumers as a whole killing the employee.

Honestly, I don't blame Black Friday shenanigans on the stores offering bargains, I put the blame mostly on the consumers. Sure some store is offering you a deal that might save you some money (maybe even a couple hundred dollars if its TV or computer), but is it really worth killing someone? Would you kill someone if I offered you a hundred dollars in cash?

Sure it was a death caused by a mob, and it might seem like a stretch to equally blame everyone in the crowd with the murder of the employee, but its not a stretch to infer the inverse argument. Nobody in the crowd helped that man. Nobody in that crowd would help him for free. Maybe they didn't kill him for money, but no one would step up to be a good Samaritan.

That's disgusting. I listen to a very broad range of music and end up attending a lot of concerts where its not uncommon the crowd and the mosh pits to be more than a little violent. However, there's a sort of unspoken code of ethics at concerts involving people that fall down. They get picked up. If you ignore them or blatantly get in the way of someone helping a person on the ground, there is a good chance that a lot of people you've never met are suddenly going to want to hurt you, because ignoring a person in need is just not going to fly.  If people at punk rock and metal concerts, who are all too often labeled as delinquents, won't let a person get trampled to death, why won't the high and mighty consumer stop to help someone up?

The sad thing is that the Walmart employee probably needed the money the shoppers saved more than they did.

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