Over the summer, I developed a debilitating and decidedly unglamorous addiction to online shopping. For all my street wisdom, I had somehow never realized that having a credit card means that you can pretty much be buying things constantly, from many different locations. You can be simultaneously attacked by a bear, and order something from Urban Outfitters, and dammit, that kind of advanced multi-tasking is just too hard to resist.
My favorite thing about online shopping is that if you have a bad memory, suddenly your life is full of surprises. “A package?” you think on Wednesday, after ordering something on Friday. “Who would send a present to little old me?”
Aside from the crushing disappointment of repeatedly realizing that your secret admirer is in fact you, this makes regular weekdays a lot more exciting. Who doesn’t love approaching the mail room window, chest puffed out with pride, grasping that little slip of paper? “That’s right,” you imagine it broadcasts to the world, “I got a package. Behold the unknowable depth of my popularity and influence.”
On top of that, let’s be honest: we are living in a material world, and I am more easily excited by ordering a book called (not joking) Listography: Your Life in Lists than by most major world events.
This is not to say that online shopping doesn’t have its bad side. A few months ago, I started noticing a depressing trend in my Amazon.com recommended purchases box. I think Amazon’s goal is to tempt me into buying more things, but realistically it’s more like receiving an unnerving psychiatric evaluation.
No one ever wants to read the statement, “Customers who bought this product also bought Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul.” Suddenly you flash forward to the future and see yourself sitting alone in an empty apartment, surrounded by nothing but journals with weird gimmicks and American Eagle tank tops. Most people would be disturbed and horrified by the bleakness of this vision, but the worst part is that it doesn’t even seem that bad to you. “I wonder if I’ll have bought travel Scrabble by then,” you think. “Now that I think about it, where’s my debit card?”
For those of you who have yet to be sucked into the world of online purchases, you should probably immediately stop reading and forget what I’ve told you. Burn this paper. You already know too much. There’s no going back. For everyone else, I take comfort in the automatic community that online shopping creates for us. If you’re a crazy person who orders two different Neil Patrick Harris posters, there is undoubtedly a crazier person who ordered three.
Obsession is relative, I think, and on a scale from I-am-not-yet-bankrupt to yep-totally-bankrupt, I’m rating a healthy three. The long-term future might not be so bright, but online shopping is about the immediate, tangible reward of materialism, not the importance of “building stable finances” or “learning that fondue torches are not basic life necessities.” If you disagree, we can talk about it over a friendly game of Bananagrams—arriving in my mailbox on Monday.