Communication is the basis of a society and how we get things done. Communication can take many forms: documents, drawings, symbols, numbers, and words. The words of language have, in large part, specific meanings and a commonality of definition that allows us to communicate with each other. So, when I see words being used to define things opposite of their original meaning I get extremely distressed. Nothing good can come of it and it may lead us to riot, chaos, and eventually, destruction of society altogether. Case in point is the constant and purposeful modern mis-usage of the word “investment”.
In modern media, the word “investment” has been re-defined to mean something that is expensive. I have seen this use of the word every day on television, in magazines, and in my local paper. I’m sure there’s more than mere coincidence that its increase in use is inversely proportional to the closeness of the holiday shopping season, but I digress. In real life, “investment” and “expensive” are not synonyms. Some investments may be expensive, but not all. And things that are expensive are not always investments.
Here are some of the items I’ve seen just today: $1000 handbags called “investments” on a news/television program, a $50k automobile as an “investment” in a local paper, and $1M boat as an “investment” in a magazine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Absolutely none of those items will be worth more after purchasing them .
TheFreeDictionary.com’s definition of “investment” is as follows: Property or another possession acquired for future financial return or benefit. But the trinkets we are being told to buy in advertising are not investments, they are luxuries. They will not accrue in value or have any potential to pay off future dividends as real investments can. They will only depreciate. Luxuries are not things we need, they are things that make us happy. So, shouldn’t those things be good enough to make us happy to purchase them on their own? Shouldn’t they not have to be talked up as an “investment” as an additional incentive for us to buy them? Yes, they should and the word “investment” has been misconstrued, and re-defined to trick you psychologically. I should know – I used to be a salesperson who sold high ticket items. One of the first things we learned to do was explain to our customers that these expensive luxuries were “investments”, when there was no possible way they would make money from them in future outlays. The psychological block that made a person want to save their money is lifted when they believe they will get a future return for parting with a large sum of money right now. Now the use of the word in this way pervades every aspect of popular culture, not just the seedy showroom floor.
The word is used to make a consumer feel good about buying something “expensive” because calling it an “investment” implies that it will accrue value over time or allow you to profit. It softens the blow of forking over hard earned money for something you don’t really need in the first place. So remember this anytime someone comes to you and wants you to make an “investment” in the future. Remember this the next time you hear about student loan forgiveness as an “investment” in our nation’s future, subsidies in housing and Obamacare as “investments” in America – Remember that somebody’s just trying to sell you something you don’t need.by