It’s just another cyber Monday

Cyber_monday1Just like I don’t understand why people would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to shop at Wal-Mart, I don’t understand the thinking behind “Cyber Monday.” In case you haven’t heard, it’s a term coined (pun fully intended!) by, meant to denote the first Monday after Thanksgiving, when (it is said) people run to their computers and shop until they have an advanced case of carpal tunnel syndrome. What bunk. As this story on points out, it’s actually only the 12th-biggest online shopping day historically, and my guess is that over time we’ll see that online Christmas shopping’s only predictable pattern is that millions of procrastinators will flock to major retailers like Amazon in the days right before Christmas, racking up huge shipping bills because they didn’t shop earlier. Black Friday, now seen as Cyber Monday’s offline counterpart, makes a certain kind of sense. Thanksgiving has long been the official starting bell for the Christmas season, and with a three-day weekend in front of them, many people—though not I—see it as the perfect time to get a head start on holiday shopping before retailers run out of the season’s hot toys. But online shoppers don’t have to obey any offline shopping rules: The stores don’t close, you can usually find that hard-to-find item on eBay, and you can always buy a few sweaters at (assuming the site isn’t down for weeks on end) while the boss is in a meeting. Still, the press has jumped on the term Cyber Monday as if its ranks were filled by the same sorts of people who get up at 5 o’clock in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to shop at Wal-Mart because they’ve heard it’s what you’re meant to do. I have a Christmas wish—a small one—and it’s that the phrase “Cyber Monday” go the way of “information superhighway.”

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor