Black Friday is a pretty polarizing day. That’s not hard to see—bring up Black Friday to just about anyone and I guarantee you they’ll either immediately tell you how much they love it or how much it sucks.
As a staunch supporter of Black Friday, I found myself defending it time and time again over Thanksgiving. “I’m just more of an online shopper.” “I already have a TV.” “Who cares about a 40 percent off deal on a flying Christmas egg selfie drone?” These people miss the point: Black Friday isn’t just a glorified coupon, it’s an event.
We live in a world of routines, repetition and predictability. It is a world that’s been built for our comfort, as happy consumers. We go to the grocery store on Sundays, go down the same aisles we always do, knowing exactly what to expect. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—knowing what to expect certainly makes for a more comfortable experience—but it is unbelievably boring.
Therein lies the magic of Black Friday. When you walk into Best Buy at the height of Black Friday, all bets are off. No longer are you in the comfortable world of light browsing, looking at the sea of identical TVs, where the biggest excitement is fending off an overly friendly salesman who is just trying a bit too hard. No. You are in the un- charted, lawless lands of Black Friday, where college students are fighting off middle-aged women over microwave deals and anarchy runs rampant in the gaming section.
Sure, perhaps it’s not the most profound or meaningful of experiences, especially given it comes immediately on the heels of a national holiday dedicated to being grateful for what we already have, but it’s an exciting experience nonetheless. It’s a much needed break from the perfectly constructed world of routine and expectation, and it comes with great deals to boot, and not just in TV, microwaves and Christmas drones. This Black Friday I walked away with 60 percent off pants from the Gap, a fantastic seven dollar deal beanie from Old Navy and even some nice socks.
But more important than any nice socks could be (and trust me they are very nice), is the exciting sense of insecurity I experienced. As I walked through Best Buy, searching for the mythical 130 dollar 4K TV deal I heard about, unsure of where it would be in the store, whether it would be available and whether it was even real, I felt free. I no longer felt like a cog in the machine, repeating the same light browsing experience as always. Ironically, the greatest manifestation of capitalist mania served as an escape from that very system for me.
This is the problem with Cyber Monday. On paper, it should be better than Black Friday. You still get all the great deals, but you don’t have to leave the comfort of your house and risk becoming one of the many yearly victims of Black Friday mall violence. But in reality, Cyber Monday is just Black Friday without all the cool parts—it’s still perfectly comfortable, predictable and ultimately boring. Sure you might get a sweet deal on an iPhone charger, but who cares? Did it feel any different than any other day?