Terms of Concern: Convenience
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Terms of Concern: Convenience

By March Twisdale

When we hear something said often enough, we have a human tendency to believe it is true. This is known as the illusory truth effect: Hearing or reading a claim, especially repeatedly, makes you more likely to think it’s true. And it’s used against us, again and again.

When businesses hire advertisers to promote their product, they want to do more than capture our attention. They want to put their product imagery, tagline, and jingle into our heads. Permanently. They want to gain our belief, lodge themselves within our memories, and craft our habits. One example of this is the banking industry. They charge us a fee every time we leave our cash in the bank and go shopping with their debit or credit cards. And we do it … again and again. Why?

The immediate answer, usually given with a shrug, is that “It’s more convenient.” But is it?

This idea has been repeated to the point where no one questions it. After all, if everyone is saying it, it must be true, right? Or … not. As it turns out, shopping with a debit or credit card is arguably less convenient than using cash. Don’t believe it? That’s okay. Neither did I until someone said “it’s more convenient” so nonchalantly that I thought, “Wait a minute – is it really?” A few minutes later, I had my answer.

The simplicity of cash is extremely convenient. Let’s say I want to buy a latte at Café Luna. I stop at PSCCU, withdraw $20, buy my coffee, and that’s it. The transaction is over. Done.

Imagine that I buy that same latte with a debit card? I buy my coffee and walk out of the store, but the transaction isn’t completed. It’s still a lingering issue. At the end of the day, my bank will tally up all of my transactions, and that latte could be the reason I end up paying $35 or more on an overdraft penalty.

What if I buy my latte with a credit card? I buy my coffee, walk out of the store, and just like the debit card, the transaction lingers. I have to watch the mail for my monthly credit card bill, check that there are no erroneous charges, and pay the bill on time to avoid sizeable late fees. Even if I set up auto-payment, I still have to track that payment date. If I don’t, and my checking account can’t cover the monthly bill – I pay a hefty overdraft penalty.

I’m not sure what’s worse. The illusory truth effect and our ready acceptance of frequent messaging, or the idea that “living a life of convenience” has become a life goal in and of itself? Either way, when you hear someone say, “I do ______ because it’s convenient,” it might make sense (and dollars) to give it some thought and make up your own mind.

June 6, 2023

About Author

March Twisdale

march March Twisdale has called Vashon Island home for nearly twenty years. A lifelong advocate of independent thought, March believes there are as many right choices as there are people in the world. She looks forward to bringing inspiring content to Vashon Loop readers, as she's done for eight years with her radio show - Prose, Poetry & Purpose. Find her on Substack.com by searching "Our Thoughts Matter."