“Because when you give tech, people won’t just love it, they’ll love you.”
After watching this commercial a few weeks ago I realized something – it made me really sad. No, I wasn’t thinking, “it’s sad that society has become so materialistic” or “isn’t it sad that Christmas has become a money-making charade”. What I was actually thinking was, “The sad part is, I believe them.”
It is estimated that nearly 20 million Americans have a serious shopping addiction, and it’s no wonder with ads like this and easy access to shiny plastic magic money. I got my first credit card at the age of 20. With an average monthly income of 400 dollars you would think that no bank in their right mind would ever trust a college student with that responsibility, but they did. It wasn’t until years later I realized they weren’t trusting that I would make my payments on time or that I would keep my balance low. They were trusting, no betting, that I wouldn’t. And to their approval I did not disappoint.
It was so easy to flash my little plastic card of power at my favorite store, which just so happens to be Best Buy, and purchase the latest and greatest. In the following years I spent ridiculous amounts of money on useless gadgets, new clothes, movies and everything else under the moon for myself and others. Granted I returned a lot of it once I saw my monthly statement but the fact still remained, it felt good. No not good. IT FELT FREAKING AMAZING!
I can’t describe the joy that enveloped every atom of my being when I took all the plastic off the latest tablet and turned it on for the first time. I was happy. Truly happy. Truly and unequivocally, head over heels in love, happy!
I’d come home and marvel at how shiny it was, download Facebook and see all the smiling faces looking back at me and I’d realize… no, I wasn’t really all that happy.
Six years since getting my first credit card and oodles and oodles of useless gizmos later, I still fight the urge to splurge. Through a lot of contemplation and direction from my mentors, I came to realize that the problem wasn’t my spending. The problem was why I was spending.
The truth, which I so easily bandaged up with things, was that I was sad. I couldn’t see my own self-worth so I bought things for myself and others that I thought would make me better, more loveable. In the end it didn’t.
Yes, when I watch this commercial, it does make me sad because a part of me still believes in the delusion that my worth directly correlates to the things in my life. I don’t spend like I used to and I have since cut up those credit cards while finding more therapeutic ways to work through my own issues. Still there is a part of me, just as there may be a part of you, that believes this lie. I can say now that realizing I was living this lie for so long helped me find a happier place in the truth that I am loved despite the things I have or can give.
So, as we are inundated with clearance sales and BOGO deals (if you know what BOGO means than you probably understand this struggle all too well), I invite you to take a moment and ask yourself if the perfect buy is really all that perfect.
Michael Garcia is a first year Graduate Intern in the CFJ and is currently working on his Masters in Applied Spirituality and Pastoral Care at Xavier University. After finishing his degree he hopes to engage and mentor college students in experiences of faith, service and justice.