Is the Media to Blame for Our Tough Economic Times?

September 25, 2008 by JS · 2 Comments 

Okay, this is an easy one, right? Of course the media is somewhat to blame for our tough economic times.

At least a decent portion of the economy is based on consumer confidence. And what is biggest factor that contributes to consumer confidence (or lack thereof)… the media. That’s right!

gas-sign If the evening news is talking about the price of gas rising, the cost of food rising, layoffs, and overall gloom and doom in the economy then you’d have to be an idiot to continue to have confidence in the economy. Or you’d have to be so flippin’ rich that you just don’t care.

So of course the media is to blame for consumer confidence and somewhat for the economy too. But that’s not to say they are wrong or that it’s their fault. After all, they do have to report the news, right?

But there is one other little thing that I do completely fault the media for.

And that is the way they report on credit card debit.

We are a nation buried to our eyeballs in credit card debt. Yet we can’t seem to dig our way out or even pretend to try.

And why is this? Because of the media, of course.

Let me explain…

For years the media has been reporting on the alarming trend of credit card debt in this country. In fact, as far back as I can remember the media has been letting us all know what the average credit card debt is per family. And they’ve also been letting us know the percentage of families that are in debt.

Of course both those numbers (the average debt and the percentage of families) have always been huge. But instead of families being horrified, I think it’s had the opposite effect.

People saw those numbers (and continue to see those numbers) and they felt (and still feel) better. Misery loves company, right? So when people see it constantly reported how far in debt everyone else is too, they feel better about themselves.

I know this may sound crazy but think about it.

Really, it’s the same effect that happens when anything like this is reported. I mean, I may be 10 pounds overweight but when I hear the average American is 20 pounds overweight (or whatever) then I smile and get-up and grab another piece of cake.

The media reporting on credit card debt has the same effect. Every time the evening news reports how filthy America is with credit card debt, people all over smile and begin planning their next shopping sprees.

Of course they won’t be smiling for long, but the credit card companies will be. Because the major credit card companies are the only real winners here. They rake in massive profits at the expense of all the hardworking families.

But as for families held hostage by credit cards, losing to the credit card companies isn’t so bad when so many people are losing with them. Right?

Well, at least it doesn’t feel too bad. And every time the media reports on it, it feels just a little bit better.

[this article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance, 173rd Edition, on Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]