I have mentioned before how I follow SimplyFrugal.ca for deals and coupons. I've gotten some great deals, including this one for some magazines: Receive $25 in Zinio Bucks with Sign Up . I had fun looking into Zinio, because (as you have heard many times now) I am a recovering magazine junkie. Zinio is an online source for magazines, you can read them on your PC or on your (second-hand, scored on Kijiji) iPad and probably other spots as well. When you sign up you get the choice of a few issues of some random magazines to read. With the deal I've linked to, you should get in your inbox (about 24 hours later) a promotion of $25 Zinio bucks to spend on magazines of your choice. (I am not sure how long the deal lasts, it may be over as you read this). I didn't lay out a cent and I have 2 year long subscriptions: Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and Rachael Ray (the price was right). Both free.
So here's where I come to the "but are they really free?" part of my title. The deal is legit that's not where I am going with this. What I realized after leafing through the magazines today is that these magazines actually cost me a lot.
They cost me something more important than money. They cost me a little bit of my contentment. I thought I was sitting down for a few minutes of quiet: some light reading and a coffee. But when I got up I went to the mirror. I looked closely, "How does Drew Barrymore have such clear, ivory skin? Mine looks nothing like hers. Maybe I do need 'skin-twin technology'." I went to the kitchen to look at what I would prepare for supper. I had a plan already, a simple stir fry, which is quite satisfying for all of us. But now as I peered in the fridge I thought, "I wish I could make something more exciting like 'steak au poivre with roasted fingerling potatoes'. (sigh) But that would take more time and money and energy than I have right now." You see, the beautiful colourful photos were colouring my thinking. Thankfully, within a few hours, I was reminded of why I stopped reading so many magazines.
When I don't forget, like today, I remember what magazines really are: Want Creating Devices. Their purposes are many, to entertain, inform, blah, blah, blah. But, what keeps them going is advertisers and what advertising is for is to make us want to buy stuff. Today I forgot magazines purpose: to invite comparison between our normal lives and the stylized, well-lit images of products. They are designed to make me feel how I did earlier today, that my life just isn't quite good enough how it is and buying something new will change that. I am reminded of a brilliant quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
When I thought I was having a quiet, relaxing moment with some fluffy free reading, I was actually unlocking the door to my feelings and letting in a devious thief.