‘Black Friday brawl videos are how rich people shame the poor’

Luke O‘Neil, writing in the Washington Post:

Once the shopping public falls for [the Black Friday deals], a privileged segment of the population sits back and dehumanizes them for its collective amusement. Look at these hilarious poor people, struggling to take advantage of a deal on something they might not otherwise be able to afford on items that we take for granted.

Which is more grotesque: the surging mob of rabid deal-hounds, or the sneering, privileged audience cheering them on?

Ridiculing Black Friday shoppers is not just cruel—it’s hypocritical. After all, the wealthy have their own capitalist rituals. Consider the Apple fan determined to preorder the new iPhone at the earliest opportunity. Like a mall shopper on Thanksgiving night, he forgoes sleep to snag choice merchandise. Glowing blue screens light the lonely scene: a grown man, dressed only in underpants, hunched over his keyboard, obsessively hitting ‘Refresh.’ He forks over more cash on a single purchase than most Black Friday shoppers spend all night—and he spends it entirely on himself. Next year, when Apple announces the next iPhone, he’ll do it all again.

That’s at least as pitiful as the surging hordes on Black Friday. Leave aside the (relatively rare) mob scenes. At least Black Friday is a communal experience. These uber-shoppers hit the mall with friends and family. They endure the ordeal together—the long lines and the bleary eyes and the freezing temperatures and the inevitable missed deals. It’s a shared experience and (before long) a fond memory. They’ll laugh about their silly adventure over Christmas—when they exchange gifts they bought for each other.