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Today, Black Friday, marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The time of year when we come together to celebrate peace, love, and good will toward men by gathering round ‘ye old Wal-Mart store front, and trampling our fellow man in the name of marginal savings and Santa Claus. Black Friday has become a tradition in this country, apparently named for the time period when retailers financially go into “the black”; however, recent events would leave me to believe it is the time when shoppers hearts turn black, as they prepare to scratch, claw, and bleed more red than a Santa suit for half price flat screens. I understand the appeal of a good deal on gadgets just as much as the next guy, but I would suggest skipping the excitement as it has become a sort of Holiday Hunger Games.  

What began as a cheerful precursor to Christmas has evolved into retail industry sanctioned bloodsport, a sort of battle of the fittest by way of supermarket sweep. The odds of savings are in your favor, provided you survive. Black Fridays of yore (2008-11) have seen shoppers shoot each other to death in a Toy’s ‘R Us, trample employees to death in a Wal-Mart, pepper spray an entire crowd for an X-Box 360, and call in bomb threats in order to lessen what was viewed as “competition” for the best doorbuster deals. Deck the halls indeed.

The funny thing about Black Friday, is that the value proposition that makes shoppers lose their common sense is completely illusory. Maybe you can get a TV for $150, but retailers know you aren't going to wait in line for hours, survive possible assaults, and then only take one item from the cornucopia. That flat screen comes with HDMI cables, DVDS, and other accessories that aren’t marked down, and that with the combination of mob mentality cause shoppers to make a plethora of purchases that they otherwise wouldn’t.

So before you willingly volunteer yourself as tribute, take a step back and think about what’s actually happening. Are you willing to risk your sanity (and safety) for a discounted Tickle Me Elmo? (Those should be about 90% off this year.) Stay home, enjoy some eggnog, hold your loved ones, and listen for the cannon as the casualties of this year's merry massacre roll in.