In Line vs. Online: Black Friday Shopping

Stand in line? Or go online?

Apparently, this past Black Friday shopping marathon was quite successful, which is good for the economy. Retailers needed a break after the devastation wielded by the COVID-19 pandemic. I suspect part of the driving force behind the successful Black Friday Event was our desire to be out in person again after lock-downs and recommendations to go slow on the rush to be out and about in crowds.

Whatever the reasons, I for one am grateful to see crowded parking lots again. I realize online shopping is convenient; and safer for those who can’t easily get out. Yet I prefer interacting with real live human beings in person when that’s an option. Now we also have the #SmallBusinessSaturday, #CyberMonday, and #GivingTuesday traditions taking root and growing.  

There are advantages

I realize there are pros to the modern movement to shop via the internet. In some sort of weird way, these trends bind us together. I know these #’s do help sell items and raise dollars for worthy causes. I’m not against shopping or giving. Nearly everything in my home is the result of someone shopping somewhere. Even hand-made items were crafted from supplies someone went shopping to obtain.

I’m all for giving often and generously. I’ve coached 38 congregations through capital campaigns to help motivate members to support special appeals. I’ve helped several non-profit organizations generate much-needed funds for their missions.

What troubles me

What troubles me about the #Approach is that it feels like we’ve swapped convenience for personal social interactions. Schoolteachers are now teaching their students how to enjoy social time together without technology.  I’ve seen images of babies, barely able to stand, repeating words tossed at them by a toy while parents stood by taking photos to post on social media. I want to yell, STOP IT! Put down the camera. Pick up the baby. Let your child hear YOUR voice saying those words. Let your baby be looking at YOUR face when they try to repeat them. These few short years are going to go by quickly. NOW is the time to bond with your baby. In person. Without mechanical interventions. You won’t get another chance.

Here to stay

I accept the Internet isn’t going to go away. I pay people to teach me how to navigate the route from my home to others via social media. It is a tool we must master to function in the world of electronic writing, publishing, and marketing. The internet makes giving easier, but I’m not sure it does much for exercising our giving muscles. I think most non-profits, dependent on donor dollars, would prefer regular, repeated donations all year; not just on #GivingTuesday. I think brick-and-mortar stores would love to have our retail dollars any day of the year; not just in the marathons that have become Black Friday and #CyberMonday.

I recognize the irony of sharing these thoughts via the Internet. That is my point. I’d rather we chat together over coffee, tea, or wine. I prefer to go to a store where I can talk to a real human being in person. What if this emphasis on #Whatever is counterproductive to maintaining healthy habits in shopping and giving? Perhaps we’re being maneuvered like sheep toward a cultural slaughterhouse of anonymity and deterioration of meaningful personal connections with one another. Perhaps I am opening a door to an onslaught of “I beg to differ with you” responses.

Tell me about it. Has this #Approach to shopping and giving improved your life? If so, do tell.  Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what you think. If we can’t have coffee together, maybe we can at least exchange some opinions – via the Internet. I know. How ironic is that? Since the start of the current pandemic, I’ve probably spent as many hours connecting via Zoom as I have in person. I am truly grateful for Zoom, but I’d still rather visit with you in person. 

Thank you for stopping by. Were you out shopping this past Black Friday? Why not share this with a friend or sign up for your own free subscription at HowWiseThen. (Supporting local Indie Bookshops)
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