Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Remember what happened? Retail stores opened before dawn to crowds of shoppers frenzied by heavy advertising, intentionally limited supplies, and what marketers call “doorbuster” deals – extremely low-priced items meant to suck shoppers in.
It’s Psychology 101. These tactics manufacture false scarcity, urgency, and competition to sell products. But these are not new tactics. They’ve been used for decades. The difference this time is that doors really were busted and a Wal-mart employee was trampled to death.
Now, we’ve all had time to reflect on what is likely to rank as one of the most-remembered deaths in 2008. We may have heard clergy, talk-show hosts, news commentators and even attorneys talk about it.
A Nassau County Police Commissioner said: “Those hundreds of people who did make their way into the store, literally had to step over or around him or unfortunately on him to get into the Wal-Mart store.”
“It’s a tragic incident,” said poet and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu, “but by no means meaningless. Shopping is a religion, and some religions demand sacrifices. The Wal-Mart employee died for us on Black Friday, but have we stopped to think what his sacrifice means?” (Read or listen to his story at NPR’s Web site.)
Some people blame Wal-Mart. Some blame the consumers. Still others blame our consumerist society.
I’m wondering: Why did a trampling death happened now, Black Friday 2008?
Why hasn’t it happened before in the U.S.?
Was desperation the added ingredient this time?
Is the meaning of this “sacrifice” a sign of the times and what lies ahead?
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