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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Dark Friday

“We’ll call it Christmas when the adverts begin.”

—Damien Rice

This Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. Retailers prepare months in advance for this dark day—preparation that’s meant to stimulate your insatiable desire to consume: Doorbuster sales. New products. Gigantic newspaper ads. TV, radio, print, billboards. Sale, sale, sale! Early bird specials. One day only! Get the best deal. Act now! While supplies last.

The Minimalists would, however, like to shed some light on this darkest of Fridays. It’s important to understand that consumption is an unquenchable thirst. Retailers, advertisers, and manufacturers know this too well; thus, they invented a day designed to take advantage of your insatiable desire to consume.

The pernicious aspects of Black Friday are not few, and the pandemonium of this day is a synecdoche for our consumer culture: On this day, people consume gluttonously with no regard for personal harm. On this day, greed becomes ravenous. On this day, people exist without real meaning, buying gifts to fill a void we can’t fill with material possessions.

Sadly, people participate in the rapaciousness of Black Friday in the name of a holiday, as if buying gifts was an ideal way to celebrate Christmas. Thankfully, though, you have other options.

Instead of embracing Black Friday, you can refuse to buy material items for one day; instead, you can demonstrate your love, caring, and affection through daily actions—every day, not just holidays.

If you want to give gifts, why not gift an experience: a nice meal, tickets to a concert, a sunset on the beach? The best, most loving gift you can give someone is your time and attention.

Will you join us? Will you opt out of Black Friday? If not, why not?

Feel free to regift this essay.