So much of what we take in these days is filtered through our inbox, or our google reader. If you’re like me and have little time to follow blogs and cultural conversations in general, your email is your window to the big, wide world. I get the news headlines in brief, words of the day (why do I need two? why do I always think more is better?), alerts from humanitarian organizations like CARE and World Vision, and newsletters from non-profits that I support. Every time I look at my email these days it’s so full of stuff I can hardly tell if I have an message from someone I actually know. Emails fall below the requisiste twenty at the top of my page, and just like that, out of sight out of mind. I shudder to think of all the people I haven’t responded to because their email simply got lost among the detritus at the bottom of the pile. But the stuff that really clogs it up is the stuff that clogs up my head, too: the daily deals from sites like Groupon and Living Social.
At first these sites seemed like a must-have. Who doesn’t like to save money? Especially Christians – I am being a good steward, I tell myself. And I have two kids; saving money is a must. But it’s been months since I bought one of these deals, and I look at them all the time. How much time have I wasted wondering if I should save 70% off auto detailing or 50% off the most amazing cupcakes in Seattle? Somehow, without realizing it, I became even more imbedded in the materialism of our culture. It’s almost impossible to avoid. Facebook was so much more fun before the ads, but I’m not going to stop catching up on friends and family, even at the cost of subconsciously imbibing the message that I just don’t have the right outfit, or I look too much like a mom, or I really need a new scarf, I really do.
So that’s why I am unsubscribing from the daily deals today. Because I value my mental space. Because I need room for silence, and prayer, and a break from the I wants and I needs. Because I want to cut out as many of the messages as I can that I am not good enough, just as I am, and spending money will make me that much happier. And above all, I want to make space for the words of the poor. I want them to be in the forefront of my mind as I pray and live and spend.
Instead of a daily deal to make my life better, here’s a daily quote from Voices of the Poor:
For a poor person everything is terrible – illness, humiliation, shame. We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of.
— A Poor Moldovan