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Saturday, January 09, 2016


Our local Internet provider is coming out with a new, better, faster connection. They call it "Gigablast". And their advertising is ... strange. They show, for instance, a kid who has a whole range of strangely shaped food to serve. And at the end you find it's the kid's imagination. "3D printed food," the kid says, "that's what I'll do with Gigablast." Or a couple of children are romping around the house chasing a holographic pig until the little brother catches it and scores a holographic crown. The older sister says, "Holographic gaming; that's what I'll do with Gigablast." Umm ... people ... I don't know if you realize it, but "faster Internet" is not going to enable you to print food or create games. That requires technology we don't have ... and it's not the lack of speed on your Internet.

Kaley Cuoco, the popular star of Big Bang Theory, does a commercial for the Humane Society for the United States. She leads with, "I joined the Humane Society for the United States because I couldn't stand the thought of one more Canadian seal hunt." Ummm ... Kaley ... you do know that Canada is not the United States, right? I mean, the Humane Society for the United States is not the society that will change Canadian law. You know that ... right?

Along the same lines, there is a heart-rending commercial that tells us that the world is melting and polar bears are drowning. (Let's set aside for the moment the questionable validity of the claim.) Oh, my! That's horrible! What should we do? Sign their petition and you will save the polar bears. What? Really? What is the magic of this petition that merely signing it saves bears? I must know! (Oh, and whatever you do, do not check out what the petition you're signing is calling for. They want to petition the president to charge more for carbon production. Even the global warming scientists will tell you that the biggest problems are China and India and that, if the U.S. was to cease all production of greenhouse gases, the problem would not be solved. But, again, why bother with facts when there is a fake epidemic of drowning polar bears to fix?)

Along similar lines, one of those very sad commercials about starving children shows us pictures of children -- hungry, dying -- who "look into the face of death every day." Oh, that's not good. But, if you will give just $25 a month, you can provide life-giving food to a child who will "never have to look into the face of death again." Oh, now, this really is some remarkable food. They need it there, sure, but we need it here just as much. Feed them this food and they are immortal. Indeed, everyone they see becomes immortal. Really? "Never look into the face of death again"? That is fabulous food. Better even than the water Jesus offered that merely made it so they never thirsted again. And while I understand Jesus's claim, I have a feeling that this food is not real.

It's just an example, but Nutrisystem is ingenious in their advertising. "Lose up to 10 pounds in your first month!" "And a total of up to 5 inches!!" "Guaranteed!!!" Now, let's look at what they really offered. The "guarantee" is that you will lose up to 10 pounds in your first month and 5 inches overall. On the 5 inches, you should know that "overall" means that they measure your waist ... and your arms and your bust and your calves and your thighs and, well, all sorts of places. They're saying 5 inches accumulated from all those places, not 5 inches off your waist. But even with that, what is the claim? You will lose up to 10 pounds and 5 (accumulated) inches and no more. If, for instance, you gained an inch or 3 pounds, you would not have exceeded their claim. The only way you could cash in on their guarantee was if you were to lose 11 pounds or more than 5 inches. Because their claim is the most you can lose, not the expected amount. And that's an inducement to use their product.

Scripture warns of people's tendency to "accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2 Tim 4:3), who are captivated because they are "weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses" (2 Tim 3:6), and "will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Tim 4:4), "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim 3:7) These advertisements illustrate the claim. Let's not be bothered with reality or reason when the products they offer are so appealing. Save the seals, save the polar bears, save the children, and lose weight. If that was all it cost us, it would be sad. What they're charging is not the only cost. It's only a symptom. Because too many of us are losing sight of truth.


Alec said...

Stan, you nailed it.

I've about given up talking to Christians and other Americans about these things. They just don't want to hear it. Why not? Perhaps I'm not saying it very clearly. But.

My suspicion is that we hate anything that smacks of restraint. If advertising itself is warned against by Scripture, than maybe our Christian brothers and sisters from an earlier time need to be taken more seriously about what they used to call (gasp) worldliness.

And if we did that, our professed faith would start changing things in our lives. In our churches. In our... you get the picture.

That's too extreme. Let's ignore your post, Stan. It's easier just to pretend that this advertising you're talking about doesn't work on Christians.

I'm going back to sleep.

Stan said...

Paul tells us that one product of sin is "a debased mind" (Rom 1:28). (Thus the need for a renewed mind (Rom 12:2).) I'm afraid that Christians are not willing to engage their brains on too many serious matters (of which advertising is just a nearly trivial example) and love the Lord with all their minds (among other things).