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November 29, 2013

Delicious: The New York Times Ask Readers to Comment About Black Friday (Subtext: The Evils of Capitalism), and Their Commenters Hilariously One-Up Each Other in the Moral Preening Olympics

New York Times readers have a chance to make it into the paper. These are the sorts of things they think will catch an editors' eye -- the sort of sentiments they think the NYT editors are looking for.

And they're probably right.

Some highlights in the Conspicuous Compassion Floor Exercise of the Moral Preening Olympics:

To me it means getting in the car with my spouse and adult daughters and heading to Cape May...Birding! None of us buy into this nonsensical consumer binge day.
I love to crawl up inside those [innocent memories of childhood Black Fridays past] and hide on Black Friday these days. It's become a blood sport that rewards the aggressive and punishes the elderly and disabled who can't partake in mad dashes for limited sale items offered during insanely early hours. This year, Black Friday becomes Black Thursday and begins the erosion of Thanksgiving and one less day to create family memories.

Note the first complaint is that the "insanely early hours" on Friday punish the disabled and elderly. However, this year, they've stopped that, and begun sales on Thursday evening. And so this guy comes up with a complaint about that, too -- ignoring the fact that they just addressed his "insanely early hours" complaint.

Whatever day they do this on, this guy is ready, willing, and able to grumble about how unfair it all is.

Now, this next guy does have a complaint that many conservatives would share -- conservatives don't really love the commercialization of the holiday season, either.

But then he loses me. Como se dice "overwrought"?

MHO Black Friday is the high holy day for the state religion of over-consumption. And it seemingly permeates our entire culture and every socioeconomic level at least for this one day. When will we learn that more "stuff" can't make us happy? I plan to stay away from the stores Friday. The savings are not irresistible to me at all - they only serve to remind me that the corporate mark-up the rest of the time is shameful.

Compare with Dave In Texas' post below, about unionists protesting against Wal*Mart. Note that Wal*Mart's strategy is to reduce prices to the lowest possible level-- that is, to attain the lowest "corporate mark-up." Yet another guy who's angry no matter what, whether the mark-up is high enough to pay a "living wage" or if it's too low for that.

He continues:

If only we could spend the day serving our neighbors, or wait a day and perhaps spend a little something in our local communities on Small Business Saturday. Or simply revel in being with our loved ones continuing for a second day to reflect on what we already have to be thankful for instead - their presence in our lives. Isn't that the most important thing of all over this and every holiday season?

He expresses a wish about what "we" could do, serving our neighbors, but I don't see any indication he actually wishes to achieve this wish. Seems to me he could do all of these things on his own. I guess he's waiting for an Official Government Program.

Next up: Despair.

Black Friday means absolutely nothing to me, except to take a moment to despair of what Christmas has become. I'm not religious, but the season itself has always been important. Seeing people kill each other over parking spots and consumer electronics of dubious value is disturbing.

Won't someone think of the local artist community?

I may do some holiday shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. I do not shop at big box stores, rather than that, I shop at small, unique, local shops. I also buy from artists, and often I make the gifts that I give.

Talkin' about a Revolution:

Black Friday is a day to protest Black Friday at Walmart and by extension all the other low-wage places selling imported junk and garbage food to people who don't need any of it. We will protest to demonstrate the economic devastation they have wrought with their sub-poverty wages and their cheap, job killing imported stock. Their poverty wages and prices cost taxpayers between $400,000 and $2,000,000 per store per year in social services and only god knows how much in other forms of corporate welfare.

Walmart is only the beginning. Unbridled greed and insensitivity has a price and reckoning is coming, faster and harder all of the time. Revolution is building and cannot be stopped.

Someone replies that while he's all in favor of Revolution, he's worried our oppressed classes are too oppressed for a proper revolt, and in fact will join the madness:

wish I felt as sure as you do about a revolution against corporate greed and low wages. I fear that it will be those very low-paid workers who will be crashing down those doors on Black Friday because they desperstely need the biggest bargains.


A day to buy even more junk that no one needs and will wind up on the floor or in the closet. Shame, shame.

You have to love Preening Leftists accusing other people of self-importance:

the selfish people who shop on Thanksgiving...should be ashamed but I am sure that their greed and sense of self importance is stronger.

That commenter failed her Saving Throw for self-awareness.

At least they're not self-bragging about how much more intelligent they are than everyday Americans.

If the total brain power of the U.S. was consolidated, there would not be enough energy to build a bomb that would blow up a peanut.

Oh right. Should have figured.

Finally, NYT commenter "LotusChild" goes for understatement in free-associating on "Black Friday:"

Black. Horrible. Like disease, doom, and death.


Check @verumserum's timeline for more gems as he finds them.

There are a lot of legitimate criticisms to make about the commercialization of the holiday season. The religious right aren't fans of it -- and of course the religious left aren't fans of it (though they don't comprehend that their own objections are in fact religious in nature).

Plus, the Black Friday "savings" are largely an illusion. 40% off doesn't mean anything. These guys set the prices, for crying out loud. A sweater marked down from $200 to $110 was probably always intended to sell at $110.

Many Black Friday "deals" are basically exploiting people's desire to feel like they've gotten the better of someone, that is, that they've swindled someone themselves. That they've struck an unfair deal -- but unfair in their own direction.

Which is how almost all cons work, you know: The target is made to feel like he's swindling someone else.

And of course that's not what's really happening. One can't help but notice the massive profits these stores ring up after the holiday shopping season -- if they were really losing money on these deals, how would they be making a profit?

But one can make all these points without preening about it excessively.

I always say that the unexpressed Main Point of 70% of communication is "I'm better than You" or "I'm better than these Other People." The readership of the New York Times is superlative -- they cross the 90% threshold easily.

And they're just getting started showing off their #caring. I'm pretty sure this will get even sillier.

Mega Mart's Black Friday Sale: Back when Saturday Night Live was still occasionally funny (yes, there was a time when it was sometimes funny), they did this parody of Black Friday madness.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:27 PM

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