Around these parts we spend a lot of time covering an industry that revolves around consumerism. I make no bones about the fact that your interest in buying newer, faster, better, and shinier gadgetry goes a long way to making my gig here at PhoneDog possible. Given that I think it'd be utterly hypocritical for me to write another article decrying America for its greedy, overly-materialistic ways - plenty of other writers have already done plenty of that kind of writing over the past few days. I love technology and gadgets and really enjoy covering the phone industry and writing, vlogging, and podcasting about the latest happenings in the mobile phone and consumer electronics industries. And, frankly, if you weren't as into it as you are, we wouldn't have the carefully orchestrated product churn that fuels everything from tech blogs to complaints that "they don't make 'em like they used to" to Black Friday sales.
That said, the news that a temp employee was trampled to death at a Wal Mart on Long Island, NY and two men shot each other to death in a Toys R US in Southern California last Friday saddened me immensely. While I haven't heard anything definite regarding the cause of the argument that led to the shooting in California, the cause of the Wal Mart worker's death was painfully clear: He was trampled to death when the doors to the store opened at 5 am and hundreds of Black Friday bargain hunters rushed the gates, literally tearing the doors from their hinges as they stormed the store. More than one person was knocked to the floor; tragically, Jdimytai Damour was killed in the onslaught. I wasn't at the store and don't know Mr. Damour's family, but from afar it seems like a totally senseless death that should have been prevented.
I bought some stuff last year on Black Friday. I avoided the early morning crowds, missed out on the eerily and aptly named "Doorbuster" sales, and hit up a few major electronics retailers later in the day. The showroom floors looked like they'd just been hit by pretty severe windstorms, with sales flyers, merchandise boxes, and trucking pallets strewn about all over the stores. Employees who'd been on duty since 3 or 4 am (to prep for the 5 am opening times) were grumpy and exhausted - save for a few who were just giddy from being over-tired and over-hyped.
I got caught up in the hype, too, even that late in the day. So I'm not going to poo-poo anyone who went shopping last Friday, or slept on a sidewalk the night before to get a deal, or went home with three flat panel HDTVs and an espresso maker even though they originally set out to get a lawn mower, or whatever. This is the nature of our capitalist, consumer-driven society: companies make stuff, consumers buy it, and a lot of the purchasing gets financed by credit. I can't really point a finger at someone who dropped $500 more than they "should have" on a home theater rig or spent the day shopping instead of being at home with their families where they "should have been" last Friday; believe me, I know all about getting artificially excited about gadgets and sales and spending more time and money on them than I wished I had.
So I'm not going to blame anyone for what happened last Friday, or for the fact that shopping is a big pastime in my country, even in the midst of a financial crisis involving multi-billion dollar bailouts of companies headed up by executives who fly around on private jets and hold company retreat at elite spas while simultaneously asking the American taxpayer to pony up a little more cash to help save their bacon. Until such time as I go totally off the grid, give up my gadgets, and start growing my own food, I can't in good conscience blame or claim to hate the system. Yeah, we ate a bunch of tomatoes and squash we grew in our garden this past summer, but that's not quite living off the land.
I am, however, going to say this: Consider backing off a little. Consumer electronics and other goods can be wonderful. Cell phones are super cool. I love playing with them and reading about them, and I have a blast reporting on them. And a big chunk of my livelihood revolves around the industry staying healthy and your continuing to frequent our website to get all amped up about them, too. But you don't need to buy every phone that comes out and/or buy anything just because it's on sale or some guy like me posts on a Website saying, "This is the latest all time best model ever!!!"
I will continue to report on all of the new mobile products and services like I always do, and I will also continue to do what I can to help you make the best decisions you can when it comes to purchasing a new phone or service plan. I will also do my best to entertain you if you happen to enjoy watching, listening, and reading about the mobile phone industry. If you wanna help me out, you can click on some ad links, but you don't have to; my entertainment is entirely free for you. The rest of the PhoneDog crew is operating on the same principle: we do what we do for your sake, whether you're buying, thinking about buying, or have no current interest in buying anything phone-related.
In return I now ask something of you: Be happy with what you have. Remember that your mental and physical well-being, and that of those around you, is worth more than even a 60" 1080p HDTV at the low, low price of $199 after rebate (as if). If you want to sleep outside of a store in the dead of winter to score a deal, do it. But do it with kindness and consideration for yourself and those around you, and don't get all bent out of shape if by the time you get inside of the store all of the TVs are gone. If that happens, try to be happy that you've still got that cash in your pocket and a warm home to return to.
I know, I know, I sound like a doddering old fool right about now. But seriously, I believe there's enough to go around - plenty enough so that we all can have what we need to get by and then some. The world isn't quite set up that way just yet, and so things like Black Friday sales are popular enough that over-hyped people crush each other through the front doors to a store at 5 am and a young man gets trampled to death. The world may never be set up to systematically ensure that such tragedies are safeguarded against, and so I'm asking you do so some small part to try to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. You can do it - and a whole lot more - without giving up your Bluetooth earpieces and gadget blog fixes. I have faith in you.