critical thinking and the media awareness brings a new eye

March 17th, 2008

Critical Thinking and the Media – Awareness Brings a New Eye

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.

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9 Responses to “Critical Thinking and the Media – Awareness Brings a New Eye”

  1. You have hit the nail on the head – I agree with you completely. I have a 12 year old son, and it has become a game to figure out what the commmercials are REALLY saying and selling. Your Visa example is a good one; the one that bugs me is either a Visa or Mastercard one. Remember the commercial where everything is running like clockwork in the store, the credit cards and their users are flying and spending in perfect motion, until the activity grinds to a halt because someone wants to use – gasp!- cash! When did real live cash become a bad thing?? Anyways, keep up the good work on your blog, and keep poking holes in those assumptions!

  2. This reminds me of the Rockstar by Nickelback. I find the lyric “I need a credit card that’s got no limit” really annoying. You don’t need a credit card with no limit for a rock and roll lifestyle, you need a ridiculous amount of cash. Grrr.

  3. Do credit cards still decline when you are too close to the limit and the purchase isn’t enormous (obviously not the case in the commercial)? I thought they just let you charge it and hit you with the classic $39 late fee :)

  4. Ugh, I meant overlimit fee. There are so many $39 fees that it is easy to confuse them all! :)

  5. Not an Artist Says:

    March 17th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Parsing advertising for this kind of thing is a hobby of mine. It would be a much more enjoyable hobby if I wasn’t so painfully aware that 99% of people aren’t media-savvy enough to critically question everything they see and just accept what ads tell them at face value. Besides, if we all spent the time to analyze every ad we saw in detail we’d do nothing else with our lives!

    It is no wonder the average North American is in so much debt when you look at it like that.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! The advertising usually suggest that getting more credit is better. I really get upset over those “more purchasing power” ads-that is not “power” it is debt. It is a ball and chain just like all other debt. Ugh. So annoying!

    Take Care


  7. My husband and I have one credit card with a 750.00 limit. This is perfect for an emergency because 750 will usually cover any problem that we might have. Also it is not a huge debt to be paying off. In two months it is gone. Clare


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