In a recent conversation, I felt a little out of the loop. The crowd was discussing their favorite TV Shows. My wife and I haven’t watched a single episode of any of the latest and greatest shows. We don’t have cable or any sort of live TV.
Our source of TV/movie entertainment comes from a combination of Amazon Prime and Redbox. Amazon Prime costs $79 per year ($6.58 per month), and in addition to free 2-day shipping, it gives members access to free Amazon Prime eligible movies and TV shows. Since the Prime movie collection excludes a lot of recent movies, we’ll go to Redbox if we’re in the mood for a movie.
By going the Amazon Prime route, we also miss out on two pieces of advertising – previews of the hot shows coming up next and advertisements during a show.
Yesterday, I was at my in-laws’ house to watch some March Madness basketball, and I saw advertisements again. I caught myself thinking – that would be an interesting show to watch. Then I realized how much money it can save by being ignorant.
You can’t want to buy or participate in something you don’t know exists.
Could there be a financial benefit to limiting your exposure to advertising and to all the latest and greatest advancements? Most certainly. Could you be doing a lot of unnecessary work because you’re not up to date with the newest releases? Most certainly.
Somehow, we must seek to learn to utilize ignorance as a tool to produce the fruit of contentment.
The iSlick iPhone App Illustration
I have an app on my phone called iSlick. This app highlights certain hot deals and items for sale. I often wonder if the app actually saves or costs me money. Sometimes I think it saves me money, and sometimes I know it costs me money.
Last month, iSlick highlighted a Starbucks promotion where I could get a $5 credit if I downloaded the iSlick app. I’ve only ever been to a Starbucks once in my life, but who am I to pass up on a free $5? In March, our family was supposed to fly out of the Denver airport early in the morning. However, a snow storm the night before caused us to make the last minute decision to drive down to Denver the night before. Driving in a snow storm made me crave a nice hot Starbucks drink. My wife also wanted something, and so being a newbie Starbucks patron, I was intimidated by the ordering process. I ended up getting two big (not official Starbucks terminology) hot chocolates. The total cost was $7??. I paid an extra $2 and change for my Starbucks order.
The point is this: had I not followed iSlick, I wouldn’t have known about the $5 Starbucks offer. I wouldn’t have gone to Starbucks, and I’d be $2 ‘richer’ for it. However, my money saving app allowed me to spend $2 I otherwise wouldn’t have spent. Sure, I could say that I saved 70% at Starbucks, but that would only be true if I usually go to Starbucks.
This illustration is applicable to any ‘deals’ type website, apps, or products. I’ve also questioned if Groupon actually saves money.
The Claws of Advertising
Over half of the things I own, I own because I was convinced that I needed something that I didn’t even know existed. Yes, it is true that most of the things I have I’m also glad to own. This post isn’t about ‘avoiding the evils of technology’. Yet, the fact remains that the more you expose yourself to advertising, the more you’ll want what you don’t have. Usually, we apply Paul’s call for contentment as follows:
Be content with what you have until they create something better. Then purchase that item and commit to being content until the updated version comes out. At that point, you should once again be content until new improvement are made.
It makes me wonder how do we really live out contentment (Phil. 4:11) in our ever-changing society? What does contentment functionally look like in 2013? Can I buy all the latest and greatest and still exemplify the contentment of the Bible?
I’ve got answers to these questions, but I want to hear what you have to say about it.