There's always something to be thankful for, and in the tech & gadget world every year brings some new set of toys. We all have our smartphones, tablets, computers, and WiFi connected toasters, but let us just stop for a moment and take proper perspective of things.
Yeah, I specifically mean Black Friday. Stores are in a frenzied bid to outscoop one another in terms of profits, and the official start of "Black Friday" has gradually creeped earlier and earlier. It was once bad enough to have stores open at 5 in the morning, then even at midnight.
But to have stores open at 8pm, Thanksgiving day?
Then there's the camp-out. While a "noble" tradition for any much anticipated product release, is the camp-out really worth the time when that could be better spent with friends and family? Thanksgiving isn't "Black Friday Eve". Nor is Thanksgiving even supposed to be "Food Day." Thanksgiving is "Eat With People Day."
Now, on the other hand one doesn't have to shop on Black Friday. I don't. It's a personal choice. What isn't though are the thousands of retail employees who work on Black Friday, and in order for their store to be open in time for Black Friday they have to part from their own respective gatherings. And in today's economy, it isn't as easy as "find another job that will let you take the holidays off." And for that matter, why are we as consumers still splurging so hard on goods when we should be striving to save?
I understand that businesses are bidding to outscoop one another in order to stay afloat. The store that opens first and has the lowest deals gets the most shoppers, and considering how bad sales have been across the board lately any attempt to "get into the black" makes this particular Black Friday the most desperate one in a long time, if ever. No wonder some retailers are starting the day before.
But the real root of this issue is a perceived focus on purchasing. And we purchase because we think having the latest technology is important. This is missing the point.
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, more efficient, more powerful. The moment it becomes a greater net cost in and of itself is the moment progress takes a step backward. What is really more importantr; the latest device that will be outdated in two years, or cementing family-and-friend bonds that you'll depend on in times of real crisis? A smartphone isn't going to let you sleep on its couch or loan you some cash in a pinch. A smartphone won't feed you when you're hungry. It can only lead you to those things, but it can't do them for you. Only people can.
Technology is supposed to help people. We are not supposed to inconvenience ourselves for technology. If you've spent $300 for a tent to camp out to save $50 on a $850 new TV, you're missing the point.
What do you think? Has consumerist technology gone too far, or are such cases the exception to the norm? Either way, happy holidays!