Misplaced Priorities

buying-onlineSo, Mrs. Blue tells me today about some woman she sees on a discussion thread today who’s commenting about how times are so tough she doesn’t mind standing in a long line to get some fancy, high-tech, 30-something-inch television for $400.

Look, I understand the desire to have things, and even the “need” to some electronic entertainment options. But if we are honest with ourselves, how many of us really do truly need a TV bigger than a 24-inch screen and do we really need some bells-and-whistles, thin as hell, plasma HD flat screen or whatever the hell is out these days?


And making like it’s some big sacrifice to stand in line for a “deal” like this on Black Friday (the big post-Thanksgiving Day shopping blitz that traditionally occurs, for those who don’t know) is insulting to people who can’t even afford a new no-name bulky TV. You tell me you’re standing in line for a decent DVD player that is being sold for $30, and you’ll get more respect from me.

Our priorities are skewed, and even with the economy tanking, we’re still trying to figure out how to buy stuff we don’t really need. It’s just that now, because the economy has been tanking, those things cost less. But most of us don’t have as much money, so the fact the unnecessary shit costs less just means that you’re spending what little you have—something you should probably be keeping around for an emergency—just to have something that, in the current economy, you need even less than you did before.


8 Responses to “Misplaced Priorities”

  1. November 28, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    It’s about where you draw the line… I don’t need ANY television, as long as my girlfriend is willing to watch a DVD on the laptop. Usually, curling up on the couch seems a little less romantic eyeballin’ the little screen on the coffee table, and telling dogs to stay away from the cord. I can get my inner pharisee riled up and begin to feel superior about my breaking free from the glass tit almost two decades ago. I can start to feel a little more spiritual than just about anybody I look closely at, provided my focus is narrow enough. I used to judge people who used T.V. as a babysitter, but having my girlfriends grandson around has made me a little more compassionate. I can look down on the T.V. slaves under my own roof, blissfully forgetting that I have a blog problem. I can get lost in the blogger/wordpress/flickrverse more deeply than anybody I’ve even seen with a porn problem, which admittedly can be a lot worse than I have ever seen. You write professionally… you can justify a lot of time on the internet, and possibly a nicer laptop than my own. I paint and drive nails… I can justify spending an obscene amount of money on tools of my trade. I’ve heard sermons about God not minding if we have nice things, as long as he is first and our money priorities are in order. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable to really think about what I should allow myself and when to give. I don’t know if ten percent is really reasonable in a country as prosperous as ours still is. I sure did want a new camera today. I restrained myself, just barely, and even now a little voice tells me the stores are still open and my growing photographic ability is a gift from God, who will totally kick my ass if I bury my talent. and realistically, my creativity has reached the limit of what my little camera can do. I’ve got a months expenses in the bank. and no work. Hey man, in the life I came from, that is fairy tale material. It was hard, not to do what I wanted.

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    November 28, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Well, that’s really where it is, Chris…drawing that appropriate line, and it isn’t the same for everyone.

    It just irks me to see people thinking they’re being so frugal and self-sacrificing when they’re still just finding ways to conspicuously consume. Compounded, of course, by the story I heard about a Wal Mart worker getting trampled to death by shoppers who were nearly tearing down the doors to get at the $130 Kitchen Aid deals and shit…and the shooting at a Toys R Us in California.

    We’re seriously twisted in this culture around shopping at times.

  3. December 1, 2008 at 5:42 am

    There’s a hunger in the soul, but material things won’t fill it up. The hunger will continue until we realize what it is the soul really has an appetite for.

    Jesus said: “I have food that you know not of.”

    Materialism is a symptom of a greater problem–a spiritual paucity, that is, not possessing spiritual treasures–the only thing that will satisfy our soul’s cravings.


  4. December 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I can appreciate Chris’ sentiment that the line is different for everybody, but it’s obvious that most folks (from all “classes”) have missed the boat.

    Too much evidence exists that priorities are clearly out of whack. Face it, if Americans had better priorities than overspending on flat screen TVs and big vacations, this tanking economy wouldn’t have such a devastating effect (because we’d all have 2-years worth of salary saved, right??? We’d always live far enough below our means to save even more, right??)

    “Living paycheck to paycheck” is a common condition whether that monthly check is $9000 or $900. And we can’t blame the cost of necessities for it all, because a whole-lotta “wants” were purchased on top. I don’t just count the flat screen TVs, but the daily Starbucks, the oh-my-God excessive cable, and the car meant to woo our neighbors and co-workers.

    I am in a very similar situation, although most would count me as doing just fine. A job loss would devastate us. Looking back, you couldn’t say I lived an extravagant life, but it could be considered extravagant according to my resources, and the lack of wisdom applied to saving. While I have 2 retirement accounts (401K and Roth IRA), I don’t have access to liquid assets for emergencies. My checking account is always depleted by the next check, and very very little (if any of it) went into meaningful savings.

    We’re working to turn that around, but I believe those who are richer AND poorer than me have similar stories of poorly drawn lines.

  5. December 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Have you compared the picture in high def to the picture on regular television?

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    December 1, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    LOL, Big Man…no, I haven’t. But I’m the kind of guy who was happy with a 19-inch or 21-inch standard TV. Heck, in a small enough living room, 13 inches works for me. We wouldn’t even have a 20-something inch flat screen TV if my dad hadn’t insisted it was “necessary” and bought it for us.

    Hawa, I hear you on a lot of that. Mrs. Blue and I have been guilty of just the same stuff you talk about and that you deal with.

    First Domino, as always, thanks for the deep sentiments that help ground things.

  7. December 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm


    Once you go hi-def, there is no going back. I spit on regular television.

    And, I have one of those massive room filler tvs in my den. I think it’s like 56 or 58 inches, I can’t remember. It was the one thing I always told myself I would buy when I became my own man. I spend months agonizing over that decision, but now I’m cool with it.

  8. 8 Deacon Blue
    December 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I won’t judge.

    I figure you’re one of the people who decided it was something you WANTED.

    As opposed to people who claim they NEED such things as part of life.

    Subtle difference sometimes, but there are a lot of conspicuous consumers out there that just buy buy buy with no regard to whether it is something they will even appreciate in the end.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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