fighting fatigue: why cyber monday trumps black friday

Many of us who live with NMO (and almost all other autoimmune diseases, for that matter) experience fatigue. Fatigue is one of those funny things to have: externally, nobody can tell you’re suffering from it but internally, you just can’t help feeling like a big sloth. Even my husband who loves me dearly (but who can’t possibly know what it feels like to be me) often says, “You’re always tired!”

Because NMO affects our neurological system, it is often frustrating to feel certain sensations (e.g. pain, tingliness, numbness, temperature changes) and have them not manifest on the outside of our bodies, a “proof” of some sort. Oftentimes, I feel like when I tell people how crappy I’m feeling, they look at me strangely and nod knowingly, pretending to sympathize but really not fully believing the extent of my complaints. After all, open bleeding wounds you can see. But not pins and needles poking you from the inside. For many of us A-type personalities, fatigue is especially a thorn in our side as we prefer to be on the go but this thing prevents us from doing so, and the self-critical devil on our shoulder taunts us, saying others will think we’re just being lazy, that we’re faking it. And thus is the complexity of fatigue.

As you can tell from my previous posts, I had quite a Thanksgiving. It was the first one in almost a decade that I’d cooked, with the help of my sous chef husband without whom I could not have pulled this off, a feast almost entirely from scratch (with the exception of the stuffing and corn). The food was insanely delicious–even with nearly 30 pounds of turkey, we had only three legs left over at the end of the night. Yes, our guests tore it up; many of them even said it was the best turkey they’d ever had. But despite the happy stomachs and good times, all the preparations and festivities left me exhausted. When asked if I planned on doing any Black Friday shopping, I could only look aghast: “Are you kidding me? Who has the energy?”

Apparently, everyone without NMO (and even some with NMO) does. The truth is everyone shops on Black Friday. It’s Christmas on steroids. It’s sad, really; this magical season turned consumerism. On Wednesday afternoon, John and I counted twelve people already waiting outside Best Buy for Black Friday. Folks, I said Wednesday afternoon. That means they were going to wait over 48 hours, through rain and cold, to save a few bucks. Okay, so I know the times are hard, but seriously…48 hours?!

Last night, I asked John if he remembered when this ridiculous tradition of Black Friday began.

“I don’t know. Maybe two or three years ago?”

No way, I said. Black Friday had to have been around since the ’90s. But neither one of us could determine when people started staying up all night to line up outside Wal-Marts, Best Buys, and outlet malls to flood the aisles at door’s open to grab and claw at discounted items. And where did the term “Black Friday” come from anyway?

According to this site on Black Friday history, the term was coined as early as the 1960s when accounting books were kept by hand, and stores were said to move from the red (indicating a loss) into the black (profit). Ever since the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the official kick-off to a bustling holiday shopping season. Then in the 1960s, the Philadelphia police dubbed the day after Turkey Day “Black Friday” when complaining about the traffic and pedestrian congestion on the streets.

I can’t recall a time when I actually stayed up all night or woke up extra early to make it to a door buster sale on Black Friday. And now that I’m blind, the chance of me doing so is even slimmer. I already loathe crowds to begin with, and when you have poor vision, the noisy herd of people pushing and poking at you is just not worth the stress when you can’t see well enough to be on guard. It is an over-stiumulation that easily exhausts me.

Which brings me to my topic of why Cyber Monday trumps Black Friday. Cyber Monday is indeed only a few years old. Started in 2005, Cyber Monday denotes the Monday after Black Friday when people have returned to their usual routine yet still itch with the shopping bug do most of their shopping online. Following in the suit of Black Friday, online stores (whether they have an actual brick and mortar store or not) deeply slash their prices in order to up their internet sales. And many stores like Best Buy, offer almost all of their Black Friday deals online. You can see if the item’s sold out at the click of a mouse, and you don’t have to wait in line. That’s exactly what we did the last two Black Fridays when we wanted those Samsung TVs.

Shopping online is the biggest convenience, especially for blind people. You don’t have to deal with crowds, you don’t have to figure out how to get to and from the store, you don’t have to wait in long checkout lines. You simply use JAWS or other screen readers to find what you want and click “Confirm Order.” And volia! You’re done. And you did it all in the comforts of your own home or office.

In pondering participation in the Advent Conspiracy, I didn’t plan to do a lot of shopping this year anyway. But when I woke up this morning with all these great deals in my email inbox (like the $10 off a $25 purchase and free shipping at Origins), I might have to do a little shopping after all. And the best thing is I would not have stayed up all night standing out in the cold waiting for these deals. And I then had the energy to pump out this post.

why evite sucks

Note: This is categorized under “Technological advances” but it is more like a lack thereof.

I just spent the past 90 minutes trying to RSVP to an event on Evite. One single event. One single RSVP. Needless to say, I’m pretty pissed right now. Why does Evite suck so bad? I’ll tell you why. Their site is utterly counterintuitive for people who have to use screen reading software to navigate. Before the “new” Evite rolled out, I didn’t have too many problems RSVP-ing, but creating an Evite was loathsome–it would take me maybe an hour or so to figure out which field the cursor was in. Now with this new Evite, even RSVP-ing sucks! I’m sure for sighted people, the format or layout is cleaner, but hello?! What if you are using JAWS or a screen reader to find your way around the web? Now the event itself is hard to find, and once you click on the event in the list, the details are difficult to locate. And then every time I click on a radio button to RSVP “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” my screen reader isn’t letting me tab to the comments box and then the “reply” button. This means there is something not working with Evite and my screen reader, and I’m going to blame Evite since JAWS seems to give me no problems elsewhere. I had to retype my RSVP a dozen times before it finally saved correctly.

And why are there so many links on the Evite? In JAWS, the tab button is used to scroll from link to link, and with everything being labeled as a link, it takes me too long to find the field or button or link I’m looking for.

Still convinced that Evite doesn’t suck? There is an entire site dedicated to Evite’s suckiness. If you google “evite sucks,” you get a ton of search results. Evite, you suck. You’d better redeem yourself in your next version. Get a group of blind people to do some QA testing on your site. I hope somehow this post finds the Evite CEO’s eyes!