Get Back to Nature, Turn your Back on the Shops.
Black Friday is upon us once again. Yet only two years ago had I even heard of it, when all of a sudden, the UK too had cottoned on BIG TIME to this mass retail hysteria of bargain basement prices, queue barging and general craziness. Whilst bagging a bargain and the acquisition of the latest gadget for a fraction of the usual price may seem a wonderful thing on the surface, dig a little deeper and the roots of Black Friday’s origins appear to tell a very different story. Which is why I encourage you to join me and many others who will be shunning this sheep-like tradition and turning it into a Light Friday; a Green Friday. A back to nature Friday. Aka. Operation #OptOutside
According to many sources, Black Friday actually began during the era of slavery.
Which should be enough to stop all of us indulging. For why would anybody wish to continue a tradition whose origins are possibly so tainted? Now, before I get embroiled in any argument here (for I am a peaceful Positivity Guru), this is just one theory. And it is one the retail giants put a lot of time and effort into circulating opposing stories and theories of origin about. Do not be easily sidestepped! In the bid to get us to part with our cash, they will stop at practically nothing. For me, that alone is enough of a reason to walk away from it all. In 2014 U.S singing sensation, Toni Braxton ignited a huge social media campaign to educate as to the root of Black Friday. Whilst this may have been ridiculed by many, many more besides believe that indeed, the term does refer to 16th century Friday afternoons when slaves in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Havana, Cuba were sold-off at a discount before the weekend. Just saying. We have 364 other days in a year to be shoppers (yes, even Christmas Day when you include the likes of Amazon), as well as ample opportunity to hit the New Year’s sales. So, acting as conscious and ethical consumers would seem like a smarter choice all round. To me anyway.
Which is why #OptOutside is a great way to do something positive instead.
U.S store Rei, a well-established outdoor clothing and equipment brand with hundreds of branches stateside, played a HUGE part in initiating the #OptOutside idea last year, and 2016 will be no exception. All of Rei’s employees will once again take Friday 25th November off on full pay and get back to nature instead to offer up a “cultural counterweight” to the craziness.
But not only will Rei close its doors to consumers on Black Friday this year, the company is also keen to attract partner organisations who also support this move. And Rei will be in good company, since Subaru (U.S) are planning on doing something extraordinary themselves: a fleet of their vehicles and drivers based in New York will take rescue dogs currently residing in shelters there, for a day out in nature.
“For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.
We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.” – Jerry Stritzke, CEO, Rei.
And at last count, last year 903,838 Americans had confirmed they’d be joining them! So let’s join them in the UK and other nations too… before Black Friday can even get started. For unlike the fun and frolics of Halloween, this is one U.S based tradition which doesn’t deserve any more momentum. And a day in the fresh air (whatever the weather), or a day volunteering at our local dog rescue centre trumps a slashed price TV any day.
Black Friday’s true roots may always remain a grey area.
However one thing is for sure: in the current world climate of fear (over scarcity/lack/competition/other religions/a differing political belief, and everything else a human brain can conjure up) as well as hatred, do we really need another potential scenario of arguments? There are only so many reduced price flat screen TVs to go around, after all, are we really going to be peaceful and respectful about who gets first dibs when we’ve queued for hours to get in the superstore? Of course not. Don’t we have enough blame, violence and anger on planet Earth this month as it is? And isn’t it slightly distasteful the very day after Thanksgiving to be at war with one another all over again?
I have nothing more to say than a walk on the beach listening to the waves pound the shore versus a walk down an aisle listening to narky shoppers and their fists pounding one another is a no-brainer every time.