The other day, driving around town, I noticed a billboard. I can’t even remember what the business was – I think it was for a small, local business. But the billboard said something like, ” ‘Like’ us on FaceBook and we’ll donate $25 to xx charity.”
Something about that didn’t sit well with me. If they can afford to donate $25 for every person that likes them on FaceBook, can’t they just donate the money without making consumers feel guilty first? “Hey people, little Billy is starving. We have the money to get him food, but we won’t do it until you click the “Like” button on Facebook. So have a heart!” It’s such a self-serving move made under the pretense of charity.
Honestly, I had forgotten about seeing that billboard until this morning. Over the weekend, I had stopped by an Aveda salon to pick up the overly priced shampoo and conditioner that I love. While at the salon, the woman checking me out convinced me (she didn’t have to try very hard) to join their rewards program, Pure Privilege, for a mere $10. When you buy things, you earn points that you can later redeem for free Aveda stuff. Since Aveda stuff is expensive and I love it, this seemed like a good deal. I logged on to the website today to see what the gift options are.
The rewards are offered in tiers based on how many points you have. In the second tier, the gifts include a set of lip glosses, fancy candles, or charities. Yes, charities. You can use your points to make donations to adopt endangered animals (like eagles or harp seals), give money to starving people in Africa or Haiti via Oxfam America, or, my favorite, Save the Children.
This seems really noble, but it kind of pissed me off. I can no longer feel good about scoring a free trio of Aveda lip glosses when there are starving children and cute animals that will probably die because I just made a selfish choice.
We live in a consumer-driven, capitalist society. Sometimes that bugs me, but I’m all for not upsetting the order of things. Let me purchase stuff that I need or want without making me consider the greater good or how I could be helping others. Maybe I just want to buy shampoo that smells good and makes my hair look nice without having to think about everything that is fucked up in the world and how I could have helped. I am really not a selfish or heartless person, and I donate to charities where and when I can. I just don’t like it being thrown in my face in such a heavy-handed way by people who are, ultimately, mostly concerned with their own bottom line. Kind of hypocritical, no?