Three weeks ago, I opened my email and found a new message from my favorite electronics store, Best Buy. The picture below received prime placement in the email. As it turns out, the email also included a link enabling the recipient to send a friend a “Shametone” intended to induce PhoneShame which would lead to an increase in phone sales.
I realize that I run the risk of sounding a bit prudish, but I can’t even begin to describe how turned off I was by the implication of this ad. We live in a world in which the toxic effects of shame are all too well known to all too many people. I have known godly men saddled with shame because their wives ran out on them without the slightest warning. I have known women of integrity who have carried the burden of shame for decades as a result of their being sexually assaulted. I have had friends weighed down with shame over sinful acts committed prior to their committing themselves to following Jesus. I know brothers and sisters in Christ who have been shamed by their families for decisions they’ve made about how they feel they need to follow Jesus.
I hope you’ll forgive me, then, for being turned off by this callous use of shame as a marketing strategy. Given Jesus’ primary mode of operation was to undo the effects of shame (not to mention put an end to practices of favoritism and elitism), it seems to me that no matter how bad the economy is, Christians must not engage in such immature shaming of others. God help us!