As Americans, we are conditioned to operate out of a scarcity model… which is ironic given that we live in a land of such great abundance. Our thinking has been so programmed by marketing and sales ads to provide for ourselves and loved ones first and then worry about the rest of the world… because if I let everyone go ahead of me in line, there might not be enough and then I won’t get one. This applies to everything from iPhones to first-run movie tickets to newly printed books hot off the press to a step on a crowded escalator. We shove our way to the front of lines because there might not be enough by the time I get there. I need to be first.
We have names for it depending which side you look from… instant gratification… technology-induced greed… selfishness… materialism etc. But I think the real underlying issue is fear of scarcity: there’s not enough… and I’m special so I deserve to have it… and if I can get it before you then that makes me even more special than you. What a crazy cycle of building the ego. And it’s not always about acquiring money or things… it can be about almost anything we use to set ourselves apart.
I’ve recognized this in myself during this vision quest. Some of my swirling confusion comes from the idea of scarcity. I feel a little justified in succumbing to the fear after being laid off twice because there wasn’t enough money to pay me. The fear of lack is real. But as a person of faith, I should be clinging to another model even more firmly: I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10. Why do I forget? Because the default not-enough-for-me message permeates every corner of my culture and sometimes I let my guard down.
Consumers are conditioned to be in a constant state of need. The next 10 generations of iPads/iPhones/iPods are already in production waiting for the moment when marketers see boredom on our faces.
A man is excited to have his new 3-D television delivered/looks across the street to see a truck with an ad saying 4-D’s have just arrived…
A woman texting on her new smartphone looks up at a billboard to see the newer model has just been announced/she says “But I just bought this one!”…
An electronics retail chain promises to buy back your old equipment when you come in to upgrade to the new equipment…
iPad is launched 3-Apr-10/iPad2 set for 25-Mar-11/an Apple a year keeps the buyer hungry.
We may want to think that technology is pushing the evolutionary envelope of our culture… but it’s really the sales and marketing that are driving us forward. They provide… we consume.
To me what is more scary is that now we’re applying the consumer/provider model to the way we do ministry. The church provides at discount prices… We will prepare your children for sacraments and teach them religion and we won’t ask too much of your time/energy/money… Parents consume by dropping off kids and never investing themselves any further. The problem is that there isn’t a good marketing and sales strategy in place… the church hasn’t figured out how to keep people hungry/to get them to come back and buy the next generation product.
So this isn’t where I started out to go at the top of this writing… but it’s a good place to end up. Unless the church creates a new marketing and sales plan, the fear of scarcity is going to materialize into true scarcity… there aren’t going to be many people left in the pews.
Take a look at how the big guys are doing it… Apple is trading up $1.80 today at $341.10 right now.
Question of the day: Will there be enough for you?