One of the best things about being a non-religious person is that I am free to judge others unfavorably and unfairly, with zero fear that I will burn eternally for doing so.
That, and my Sundays are free.
Yet, I tend to refrain from expressing unfavorable judgments (And at the end of the day, it is only the unfavorable judgments anyone cares about squelching, right? I mean, you’ve never heard anyone say “Keep your accolades to yourself” have you?). Usually when I feel a judgmental urge coming on I talk myself out of the impulse to express myself. “Who am I to judge? What makes me think I know better? Maybe what I think I know is wrong.”
But as I was reading the forums and blogs the past several days, looking for interesting discussions to highlight, I found myself bookmarking several that for one reason or another elicited a judgmental reaction from me. Chalk it up to a rough week at the office; a bad meal; or maybe just a general sour mood – but for whatever reason I’m feeling particularly critical at the moment.
And I have decided not to fight it, but rather to embrace it. For one week at least.
It is, ironically enough, Judgment Week on ThreadTripping.
And the first discussion I’m going to draw your attention to during Judgment Week was inspired by a blog post written by a fellow BoardingArea blogger – Ric Garrido of Loyalty Points.
Ric wrote a scathing and deeply personal piece about his thoughts on:
Travel bloggers who operate their business as credit card marketers write about the world accessible to you with the right credit cards. They continually tell you to use credit cards responsibly as they earn thousands of dollars a month or even tens of thousands of dollars a year through credit card affiliate marketing. Airheads in the rewards credit cards bubble sell you a travel dream of endless luxurious travel, flying from place to place in the front of the plane, sipping champagne and sleeping in bed as you fly around the world.
As you can probably gather, Ric’s general premise is that credit cards are dangerous, can lead to great financial troubles, and bloggers who promote signing up for card after card to earn miles and points are naive at best, and heartless at worst.
The post has generated quite a few comments – most of whom praise Ric for writing a post that they felt needed to be written.
Some bloggers are so full of the BS that they have lost all connection to the vast majority of people living in this country! ~TravelBloggerBuzz
I’ve found that getting new rewards cards that have spending thresholds has actually encouraged me to spend far MORE than I would have otherwise. I’ve definitely thought, “Well, I don’t really need this [new pair of shoes/new outfit/new TV, etc.], but it’s okay, it’ll help me meet my spending threshold to get my sign-up bonus.” ~DWT
In the ideal world, there would be a mandatory introductory warning paragraph about the dangers of debt in every cc pumping post by an “airhead in the…bubble”. ~msmcmotown
But in reality, it’s all a load of bull.
If you read a blog that tells you to go out and signup for a bunch of credit cards so that you can travel in luxury for pennies on the dollar, and you signup for a bunch of mileage-earning CCs, spend a bunch on all of them, earn a bunch of miles and points, but can’t make the payments and find yourself in deep debt and financial trouble – well, that is absolutely 100% completely on you.
There’s a sucker born every minute, and if you fall for the CC travel dream without fully considering your own situation and finances and get into trouble, then you are the sucker of the minute.
Would it be more responsible of the bloggers who are pushing CCs and the associated travel dreams to fully disclaim the inherent risks? Perhaps. But then again, do you read disclaimers? And more to the point, have you ever read a disclaimer that actually changed your behavior?
I can’t honestly say that I have.
It’s beyond ridiculous to blame the bloggers who are promoting affiliate links for CC signups. Just as it is beyond ridiculous to blame McDonalds when customers become obese from purchasing and eating its high-caloric food items – none of which are labeled as healthy alternatives.
Let’s get something straight. Bloggers are not parents, priests or public officials. They hold no special authority over you and cannot make you do anything you don’t want to do.
Now, you might grow to respect a particular blogger’s opinions, but if that respect morphs into an implicit trust of everything the blogger writes and the blogger leads you astray – again, that is on you.
And Ric, it sounds like you went through a very difficult time with your wife’s health problem. No one would wish that on anybody and I’m thrilled to hear she is doing well now. But it wasn’t credit cards that got you into debt, it was your own decision to use them as you did.
We charged the gas on our credit cards, we charged the hospital visit copayments on our credit cards. We paid for food and any bill we could on credit cards so we had money each month to allow us to remain in our home and not have to add a move to the already hectic travel schedule of hospital visits. We went from being able to handle our bills to being in debt. ~Ric Garrido
In other words, you made a choice – you chose the hassle of debt later vs the hassle of selling your home and moving to a less expensive home during the crisis (not to imply these were your only two options – but these were the only two you discussed in the post). Despite this being Judgment Week, I’m not judging your choice. We all face difficult choices between two or more not-so-great options sometimes in life. And from the sounds of it, you are working your way through this choice and coming out stronger on the other end.
But I am going to be critical of the implication that you had no choice, and the only option available to any reasonable person was to rely on the CCs.
Phew. This judging thing feels sorta cathartic. Go ahead, give it a try in the comments section below.
Judge me. Judge Ric. Judge other commenters. I particularly invite all of you who, like me, tend to withhold judgment normally to give it a go. Feel free to let it all out this week in the ThreadTripping comments. And I think the key to this is not to censor yourself. Go ahead and judge even if you aren’t entirely sure your criticism is valid, or even rational.
Doing anything less would be completely stupid and wrong.
Ruffle some feathers. And try not to let your own feathers get ruffled too much. In fact, a good rule of thumb might be to write your own judgmental comments, and read none of the others. Valid and rational or not, no matter what you write is probably going to be judged harshly regardless 🙂
Read the post and thread that inspired this judgmental rant in its entirety: Airheads in the Rewards Credit Cards Bubble