In the 1980s, I was first introduced to Subway restaurants. One time I ordered a sandwich and watched the employee prepare it, then go straight to handling money, and right back to handling food without changing gloves. As a germaphobe, I decided to never shop at a Subway restaurant again.
By the mid-90s, I was three states away and using free internet service which had little irritating pop-up ads. One which kept popping up on the bottom left-hand corner was a tiny Subway logo, which was simply an animated logo. I regularly thought things like, “How absurd! A dumb little ad like that is not going to convince anyone to go eat their food.”
Yet, months after using that internet service with its free ads, I stopped in the middle of lunch, baffled. I had to ask myself, “How in the world did I get sucked in by these ads?” You see, I was inside a Subway restaurant, having my regular favorite sandwich of the day, using my Subway rewards.
Marketing works. We pay for things because ads are designed to get us to buy their products or use their services. Even when we think we are inoculated from such things, those ads still get us.
Marketing costs. Companies pay for ads to be created, and pay to put them in magazines, television programs, on the internet, on billboards, on reader boards, and more. Why? Because they work.
We are paying for it.
We are paying for it in bigger ways than we sometimes realize. Many of us don’t even realize how we’re paying for it.
As I write this column on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, we have become quite divided. Twenty years ago in the aftermath of those attacks, we, as a nation and community became incredibly united. We hung American flags everywhere. It seemed no one could divide this great nation.
Today, we make gestures and post things which say we will “never forget.” Yet, we behave much differently.
Major cable news companies, politicians, social media giants, celebrities, and the like, are dedicating much time and energy, dividing us. Cancel culture is leading more and more families and friends to separate. Co-workers and even church members are dividing amongst themselves. We’ve largely stopped being nice.
School just started back up in our area, and many I know in the local districts (Yelm especially) have told me of how rude people are acting toward each other. Both staff and parents have told me about how poorly we are treating each other. Some are bothered by it, while some brag about their misbehaviors. We are dividing ourselves further and further by our unkind and overly critical behaviors.
Mask mandates. Vaccine mandates. Looming mass departures from states and jobs. These complicate things and stir us more. They divide us more.
And, we are paying for it.
On these cable news networks, in the other popular media outlets, on social media, etc., companies pay for advertising. They support the very entities and personalities which divide us. Why? Because it gets people to buy their products or pay for their services.
We are paying for it. We are supporting our own divisions and we often don’t foresee the terrible consequences.
And it’s not just the commercials and ads which are sucking us in and getting us divided. It’s the venues and players, themselves. Politicians, cable news personalities, social media platforms, etc., are pulling us into their clever manipulations, and too many of us don’t even realize it’s happening until we’re right in the middle of losing longtime friends and family. Some don’t realize it until it’s too late, and relationships are seemingly irreversibly damaged or destroyed.
We’re paying for it for sure, but is it worth it?
Christians, here’s a passage from the Bible which might be helpful: “Evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (2 Timothy 3:13-14, ESV).”
Here’s another: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers (James 1:16, ESV).”
And one more from Jesus, himself, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35, ESV.)”
Christians, let’s not be sucked into all this divisiveness. We can and must stand for what we strongly believe (James 4:17), but we can still maintain our Christian integrity in doing so. As we deal with these very real and life-changing complications with our jobs, in our schools, in our homes, and out in the community, let’s maintain our Biblical principles and represent Christ well.
If not, we’ll be paying for that, too.
(Note: I still love Subway restaurants and no longer see unsanitary practices in any of them. My favorites in our area include the one in Roy/McKenna and the one in Yelm. However, I miss the days when TCBY was inside Yelm’s Subway years ago when it was at its old location.)
Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate, counselor and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online weekly and can be reached at email@example.com.