The more involved and educated and engaged I become with our financial picture and finances in general, the more I notice the crazy things that are all over the media. At first, I thought all these absurd advertisements were a new phenomenon, but I’ve come to realize that of course, it isn’t, it is that I actually notice and question now. Before, I just accepted things as normal. That is not to say that if I had thought about it critically, I would have agreed with any of the positions promoted by the advertising, but that’s the point. I didn’t think about it critically. I didn’t think about it at all. I just absorbed it passively and let it become part of my subconscious understanding of the world.
I’ve talked about some crazy advertising this past winter I heard on the radio and watched on TV, and I was just reminded of this topic when I saw a commercial for American Express a few nights ago. The commercial had many questionable points, but the standout one to me was this one. A man was buying an engagement ring and his Visa was declined for being too close to his limit. So the woman he’s buying the ring for suggests he get an American Express card (which in this case has no limit) so he can make the purchase, and never be embarrassed by his credit limit again.
You should be embarrassed. This isn’t (in the commercial) some case of bank error or a card being declined because a network is down, you’ve truly spent all the money available on that credit card. You should feel some embarrassment, embarrassment is a great human emotion. It encourages us to not repeat that activity. The idea that the solution to running out of credit is to get some more (unlimited, apparently) credit is absurd.
The moral of my story is that an increased awareness of financial information and my own finances has caused me to turn a much more critical eye towards the financial “information” that abounds in the media. Instead of just blindly accepting whatever I hear as the norm, I think about it and look at it closely and try to poke holes in the assumptions it is making.
And that’s always a good thing. If I have gotten no other benefit from blogging (and honestly, that is only one of the many benefits I’ve gained from blogging) it is a pretty great one.