What in the world is Black Friday?!
Suddenly, out of nowhere it seemed, yet another import from our cousins across the pond popped up on my Twitter news feed, and somewhat confusingly, this announcement simply said ‘Black Friday’ in bold lettering, almost as if I was supposed to be excited at the mere mentioning of this phrase! It awoke a certain degree of curiosity in me, so to that extent you could say it worked.
It turns out that Black Friday is essentially a day whereby bargains of various kinds can be had. As far I can see, in terms of conjuring up almost hysterical levels of excitement in the general public this piece of marketing clearly had its desired effect. People across the land could be seen queuing up for hours in order to get their five flat screen TVs, or seven pairs of trainers. And whilst as a Christian I don’t view it as wrong to be a wise steward of our money (Black Friday might be a good opportunity to frugally acquire a fridge for £100 less than the previously advertised price) or to see these flat screen TVs and pairs of trainers as good gifts from God and part of his creation, I saw enough in the pictures published by our national media to concern me.
In essence, the pictures that emerged today were of people literally killing their own grannies (well not literally) and wrestling and fighting with one another (that literally can be seen in today’s footage) in order to get their hands on an apparent cut price item. To me, what the retailers did so well today was to create a compelling impression that today was the last chance ever in the whole World that to get a coffee machine for £80 which in turn encouraged a response in the consumer to the effect of ‘I must get this coffee machine even if I despise the faintest whiff of the stuff’. As a consequence, the scenes in some shops today resembled something somewhat feral, out of control and frenzied.
Please note, I’m not using this opportunity to sneer at the masses from atop my billiard room. Truth be told I too can remember on many an occasion being consumed by this primitive urge to acquire some manufactured piece of something, I must have it, I must! No one will get in my way! If they do, my anger will be kindled!
I’m not above such actions, and you may not be either. Events like Black Friday should remind us all of humanity’s capacity to behave like out of control beasts, of our inherent sinfulness, and of our inbuilt idolatry – seen today in the form of wild and untamed materialism and the focus of self above all others.
‘Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ Romans 7:24-25a ESV