When Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on May 21, I lamented that I wouldn’t be able to experience a number of things. On that list was the Hoverboard, one of the many fantastic inventions from Back to the Future II’s 2015. Even though the world didn’t end four months ago, I’m still lamenting the lack of 2015 technology in my life today.
At least I was until last week.
Last week Nike announced that it was releasing 1,500 pair of Nike Mags, the futuristic shoes from Back to the Future II. While the shoes don’t lace themselves, they are replicas of Marty McFly’s shoes and do come with LED lights. I was so excited that the future was about to become my reality until I found out that the shoes would be auctioned and cost upwards of $3,500.
The more I tighten my grip, the more futuristic tennis shoes slip through my fingers.
I obviously don’t have $3,500 to spend on a pair of tennis shoes, which Nike says aren’t even designed to be worn. All of the proceeds go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, but that doesn’t even weigh into my desire for the shoes. I wouldn’t want the shoes any less if I knew my $3,500 was going to fuel the Nike’s CEO’s private jet instead of Parkinson’s research.
I wonder if attitudes like that turn “just consumerism” into plain, old consumerism.
Companies like Toms Shoes have leveraged consumerism in order to meet the needs of those around the world. For every pair of Toms Shoes purchased, a pair of shoes is given to someone who needs them. Toms are now extremely popular and I wonder if the purpose has gotten lost in the trend. Does it even matter as long as needs are being met?
I want a pair of Toms but not because they bring justice to the world. I want a pair of Toms because they’re trendy and I want to be cool. If we purchase something with the wrong attitude does it negate any good intentions associated with that product? And again, does it even matter?
As Christians, we’re called to bear God’s kingdom and seek justice. We can accomplish that task by participating in “just consumerism” and buying products like Toms Shoes. If our only goal, though, is to help those in need without helping ourselves, then there are plenty of other opportunities to seek justice that don’t feed our own consumer nature.
But if we have cool shoes and someone’s getting helped, that’s still a good thing.