As I think back on the past week and the holiday season in general, I like to reflect on what the heck I’m thankful for. I remember sitting at the dinner table and saying that I was grateful for the big ass plate of food spread out before me like a cornucopia of gluttonous delight- not in those exact words though.
Anyway, I thought the whole point of Thanksgiving is to stuff your stomach until it hurts like fuck, then conveniently pass out in front of the game while the womenfolk clean up back in the kitchen (just kidding Mom).
Some people in the world don’t even have anything to eat, nor a roof over their heads since a smart bomb blew it off. Other folks sleep rough on the streets this winter etc etc. It’s really not very hard to think about someone else who is more unfortunate than you. So yes, I try to be grateful and humbled by my very privileged life.
Then I think about the next day after Thanksgiving: Black Friday. Only in America could we come up with this kind of ridiculousness… Good Times:
This looks like my idea of hell actually: I have some ugly crowd phobia, so watching these videos of swarms of people pushing, fighting and clambering over each other en masse really makes my gut churn. Sadly now, this grand American tradition is quickly spreading across the world to wherever shopping malls are to be found. Its like “We Are The World” in reverse!
I really feel for these poor Walmart crew members and security guards. Working on Thanksgiving evening/early morning for minimum wage, having to potentially pepperspray, restrain or taser these aggressive mobs of unwashed cretins trampling their fellow humans for an automated popcorn maker.
As society gets poorer and people become more economically anxious, perhaps we will see more and more of this dog-eat-dog behavior. People instinctively need to grab anything they can, even if they don’t really want it. It’s like survival mode in high gear all the time. A Zero Sum Game of whatever the other guy has means that he’s now depriving me of it- thus I am losing the fight to the bottom of the garbage pile.
Still though: are really that poor? You see riots like this in Somalia over, you know, a sack of flour. Why? Because they’re actually starving. Most people in these videos are pudgy, clothed, literate, probably drove to the Walmart in a comfortable car and have an average life expectancy of 75. Why are they behaving as if they are starving?
And don’t they already own these things they are fighting over? They probably already have a flat screen or a microwave- they just feel entitled to punch a stranger in the face because they want the newer version of said flatscreen or microwave.
Then there’s just plain old, run of the mill, mob mentality: Human beings- just one chromosome removed from screeching chimpanzees with crusty backsides- seem to have an innate desire to ape whatever the other primate is doing at any one time. One person starts pushing and trampling, so the others do it as well. The guy next to me is running for no apparent reason- I think I’ll start running too! Why do they do it? Because, well, monkey see, monkey do…
A fat, prosperous society is usually a contented and non-competitive one. If we all feel like we are fighting with the other chickens for just a few measly grains of corn, then our aggressive instincts will certainly kick in against our perceived competitors.
It’s like those drivers on the freeway who feel the need to suddenly cut you off with 1 foot to spare simply so they can grab that small stretch of asphalt in front of you. They don’t actually need it, but they’ll snatch it simply because they can- even if they have to get someone else killed in the process (or themselves).
Ultimately, this is what capitalism wants: suburban soccer moms brainwashed into beating the bejesus out of each other over cheap crap made by underage slaves in China.
To be fair, I’m actually not anti-capitalist per se. Just as Winston Churchill once said about Democracy: “the worst form of government, except for all the others”, I’m not seeing a successful alternative to capitalism that hasn’t resulted in death camps and mass starvation. Industrial Capitalism has undeniably raised human living standards, propelled technological innovation, and advanced human progress unlike anything we’ve ever seen in 10,000 years of history.
But guess what? The goal of America is not to make everything cheap. I don’t see the point in making consumer items that are intentionally fabricated to break after a few years, thereby inducing you to buy a replacement, all the while simultaneously instilling an atmosphere of selfish, competitive violence in the populace around aforementioned unnecessary items. The effects on the environment, society and the waste of dwindling resources cannot be understated.
As for me, I spent my Black Friday napping under a cozy blanket, eating leftovers and watching movies on my ancient 4 year old flatscreen. Good enough for me.