Today is Black Friday, truly the blackest of Fridays, the day when Americans transition seamlessly from giving thanks for their friends and their family and the traditional foods they've prepared together to physically fighting with strangers for cheap, consumer products. It is not the proudest of days for Americans, but some describe the day as a practical way to do your holiday shopping.
This year, however, it seems that Black Friday has become a little softer. A glance at social media does not show the carnage of years past, but the civilized practice of, say, a Wednesday, or a Saturday.
In years past, people were literally crushed to death by the weight of Black Friday shoppers. This happened to the employee of a Long Island Wal-Mart in 2008. Over the years, nearly 100 people have reportedly been injured in the throngs of Black Friday shopping. In 2014, Animal New York put together disturbing footage of over-eager Black Friday shoppers:
This year, so far, the shoppers seem much more pleasant. Consider the crowd at a Best Buy in Skokie, Illinois. These people don't look crazed at all! And there aren't that many of them.
On social media, people or posting Black Friday selfies. Again, everyone seems pretty chill.
T-Mobile's CEO is pleased with how things are going, but this crowd does not seem frantic over their savings:
And this guy's basically just hanging out with his niece:
Shoppers at a Costco in Northeast Portland told the Oregonian that their trips were surprisingly easy. "Super easy. Walking in. Walked out. Done," one man told the paper. Another said, simply, "Nine minutes." A triumph.
But that doesn't mean we've tamed our baser instincts in 2015. This year, several stores opened on Thanksgiving day, and shoppers showed up in droves on Thursday:
And the traditional Black Friday brawls seem to mostly have happened on Thursday, as well.
This video of a fight at Mall St. Matthews in Kentucky was posted online just before 11 p.m. last night:
This fight, which took place in a mall in Florence, Kentucky, was posted very early Friday morning—and doesn't appear to be explicitly related to any on-sale item:
Plus, more shoppers are conducting their business online. The Economist explains that "Black Friday, long the busiest shopping day of the year, is losing its buzz. Just 18% of shoppers expect to spend more than they did last year, against 45% who say they will spend less, according to Conlumino, a consultancy." Per the Economist, "Shops on Black Friday resemble the fourth circle of Dante’s hell: why wrestle a stranger for a $99 television when you can stay at home and shop online?" Well put.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.