EDITORIAL: Don't let Black Friday make you see red

Black Friday is upon us.

Depending on how you look at it, the annual day marked by unbridled consumer frenzy is either a day to get in the shopping spirit and score deals, or a descent into the darkest reaches of a culture that worships “stuff” at any cost.

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Black Friday started as a U.S. phenomenon.

Spin doctors turned the shopping spree into a positive – as in these sales would keep businesses “in the black.” Canadian retailers – keen to keep their customers from traipsing over the border – soon came up with a maple leaf version. More recently, online shopping has surged as Black Friday spills over into Cyber Monday and several days beyond.

While researchers suggest most deals aren’t that huge, it turns out parts of our reptile brain that register rewards are lit up by even minor savings.

As that urge surges this Friday, here are a few things to consider.

Shopping locally, and shopping at actual stores, is always the best option. When we do that, we’re doing more than parting with our cash – we’re supporting our community. Shop mindfully. Don’t blow the bank or have a heart attack getting caught up in the mania. Shop for experiences rather than things. Many of those can also be bought local. Or forgo shopping and get giving instead – Tuesday is the day many charities urge us to donate. Giving lights up many of those same brain circuits as shopping, and does a lot of good in the process.

When the mania of Black Friday descends, it’s worth remembering that usually we get what we pay for.

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