It’s cyber Monday, three days after Black Friday and two days after Brown Saturday. Brown Saturday, you ask? Brown Saturday is the day you wash your underwear, after it has been soiled in a moment of excitement on Black Friday, about that previously unimaginable deal on that particularly unattainable item.
Seriously, every day last week my eleven year old got more and more excited about Black Friday – the hype was everywhere. “I’d like to experience it,” she’d say with an earnestness that only a precocious eleven year old can deliver. My eleven year old is my great barometer of the cultural vibe. She only gets a few hours of TV a week, but reads the paper every day, and she wanted IN. I just wanted to relax.
For a lot of people, those Black Friday deals are a necessity in these difficult times. For businesses, Black Friday is a critical linchpin of a successful holiday season, which in turn is responsible for a considerable amount of yearly revenue and profit. I have a small business myself, a vacation condo rental, and we make half our money for the year in just three months. For the media, it’s a great story – Frenzy sells. I can’t really begrudge them for doing their job.
I begrudge myself, for reading it, because my attraction to the frenzy is a form of back sliding.
Up until a few years ago, when I first cut back and ultimately left the corporate world, my life was very frenzied. I was in meetings all day, on email at night, and on the phone more than twelve hundred minutes a month, most of it during my commute, plus five AM calls to Europe and nine PM calls to Asia. The weekends were jammed with family activities, grocery shopping, and whatever catch up was required for home or work.
When I was in that work/life vortex, it was a constant adrenaline high. And when I started to come down, I was attracted to things to bring the high back. Hence Black Friday. I didn’t usually shop, but I didn’t need to. Ever try to drive somewhere? It’s not just the traffic, it’s the frenzy on the roads.
The Friday after Thanksgiving has long been the busiest shopping day of the year. It was something people just did. Then some cleaver marketer put a name on it – Black Friday. Now things are worse, and frenzy is a virtue.
It is ok to take it easy, and enjoy your time shopping. Let the frenzied energy go, and in that moment of calm, you will give the people in your life a gift far more valuable than any prize from Black Friday: your full attention.