This post is an aside, and just something else I came across recently. Through an email promoting online bill pay from my bank, I arrived at this screen, a harmless example of how a hypothetical user’s home screen may appear:
Note that in this pleasant screenshot touting some features of the bank, the hapless customer is nearly $2,000 in the hole! (Never mind that $12,000 is inaccessible in a CD). If this doesn’t underline the subtle yet pervasive messages in our culture that living in debt to a large corporation is normal and good, I don’t know what else would. Of course they wouldn’t show a user who has exceedingly more money in checking and savings than he owes – that would undermine their whole purpose as a bank, which is not to serve the customer and encourage financial responsibility, but to squeeze ever more interest payments out of him through encouraging living under a never-ending burden of debt. Regardless of whether our unassuming example customer is living beyond his means or just struggling to get ahead, US Bank is more than happy to help him stay there.
Take notice of the manipulative messages (particularly from companies that peddle debt) as you go about your week. If you’re anything like me, they may start to make you wonder who is expected to serve whom in such a relationship, and it may make you start to get a little angry. Nobody likes to be exploited, right?