Black Friday Rehab

"Like a fiend with is dope, or a drunkard his wine
You're lined up at Target or shopping online" -- Apologies to Merle Travis.

Black Tuesday was the day the stock market crashed in October of 1929. The Black Monday was the day the stock market crashed in 1987. Here's a new one -- Thursday, September 30, 2010, the day the Irish government revealed the full extent of the cost of bailing out the Anglo-Irish Bank, causing Ireland's deficit to increase by an amount equivalent to 32 percent of the country's GDP, is being called Black Thursday.

So what the hell is so good about Black Friday?

Black Friday is celebrated as a day to buy too much after the day we eat too much. It's about as good for your economic health as any of the other Black weekdays. I still marvel that there are people who are willing to get up at 4:00 a.m. in the morning to wait in line to spend money on truly unnecessary, cheaply made, landfill-bound junk. They must get some kind of thrill for which I have not been properly wired

We're also being inundated with "Cyber Monday" deals. It is no longer necessary to get in line to buy the things you don't need on Black Friday. Like an alcoholic, you can sit at home in your underwear and do it. Get those Black Friday deals online and you can buy more faster! They'll bring it to your door. Feel the little adrenaline surge of opening that UPS or FEDEX box, followed by the slight let down you get when you realize it's only an object and not a cure for what ails you.

Americans are manic in their consumerism year round and tragically susceptible to every advertising pitch that comes their way, but when the Black Friday bell rings, the salivation is scary. And all of this gratuitous spending on things not needed, and which mostly can't be afforded, is heralded by the media as if it was actually news. We are assailed with the standard shots of field reporters doing stand ups in the pre-dawn darkness at a shopping mall. I'm sure I can think of something less interesting to see on television, but I'm not able to think of what it would be right now. But humankind will devote collective centuries this week to watching the coverage of people wanting to buy things before normal store hours on this one day. Stop the presses and hold page one above the fold!

There is a difference between shopping, buying things you need or can make good use of, and Shopping. Many Shoppers are seduced more by discount numbers than they are by actual need or even desire for an item. "Can you believe I got this entire 12 pound tin of chocolate covered olives for 40 percent off?" Shopping, is an addiction that is encouraged by our culture. Like other addictions, it's a quest to find comfort or fill some emotional need through behavior that gives one an ephemeral thrill.

Perhaps we should have days celebrating other addictions. White Wednesday could be the day we all lay out some lines of coke or light up our crack pipes to celebrate the Great American tradition of ruining our lives with drugs. Let's also reserve Blackout Saturday for alcoholics to get as drunk as humanly possible in public and then drive home. Oh wait, we have that one already, New Year's Eve. But you get my point.

This year, celebrate Black Friday as Buy Nothing Day. Go one full day without a single consumer transaction. But keep the TV off. You might come across an infomercial and decide you can make money by losing weight as your hair grows back.