Have you ever gotten those ads or catalogs in the mail and you think to yourself “I didn’t sign up for any of these?” I’ve gotten those too. Some of those catalogs are actually from stores you shop at frequently or contain things that you may buy for yourself or if you are a parent, something you may buy for your kids. Some of them have nothing to do with anything you would ever purchase in your life, but most of the time they all end up in the same place, the trash.
Have you ever wondered how they got your address? I know I did for the longest time, as a child I thought there was some giant database of everyone in the world and they knew what they liked so that they could send them catalogs of stuff they liked. Alas I was wrong; companies do this thing called data mining. It’s where companies track purchases made with your credit card so that they can send you ads that have items similar to what you have purchased previously. They also will send these types of ads to your email. The subject line may read “If you liked (insert product here) you may also like” or “People who purchased (insert product here) also liked.” If you are like me then you just mark those messages as read and move on with reading your emails, but since being in this class I have started to think more about what I purchase and why, I am now more aware of just how influential all of those ads can be. You know how it is; you pick up the catalog just to “see if there is anything good” and you find yourself eyeing some new kitchen appliance that you’ve been wanting, or a new bed set that you don’t really need, but that would look really nice in your house. Sometimes you go out and buy that new kitchen appliance or bed set, and sometimes you rethink it and you decide to wait to see if it goes on sale or decide that you really don’t need it.
Marketing companies are sneaky creatures aren’t they? There are times when I really don’t appreciate opening my email and seeing 5 emails about books that I may be interested in, or getting my mail and seeing that most of it is ads and junk mail, but there are times when I am really glad that I got that piece of mail. I think that if companies are going to be allowed to data mine they need to do it in such a way that people can opt. out of getting the ads. That way if they don’t want the mail in their mailbox or the email coming their way, they are able to get rid of them without a hassle.
Next time you are looking through one of those catalogs or ads that you get in the mail, make sure you think to yourself “Do I really need this?” If the answer is no you are probably right, if the answer is yes you should probably think on it a little more. Maybe you could spend the money that you would be spending on some item that you may not use very much on something better, like tithing or giving to an organization, or sponsoring a child. Proverbs 11:24 says “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” So if you are giving to the church or to another organization you are storing up riches in heaven, but if you store up riches here on earth you are left wanting more.