Virtual Shopping Porn

gilt1I know I’m not alone when I say I barely go out to shop anymore. Even before Wall Street and its giving tree burned to the ground, the physical act of shopping–of going into stores and trying on merchandise–had become for me a distant memory; something I used to love and do compulsively but now find exhausting and devoid of joy. But before you jump the gun and assume I’m part of the rising tide of post-capitalist anti-consumers, I should tell you how I spend my mornings. I am signed up to so many “invitation-only” sample sale sites and “self-curated” sale aggregator updates at this point that I probably scan through at least 50 items of potentially purchasable products every time I log into my email. Most of the time I don’t buy anything — how can you when you know these targeted discounts will be magically refilling your inbox the following day? — but I do have to say it’s pretty hard not to peek, especially when you see the names of brands you like beckoning you from the subject heading.  The daily emails from Gilt Groupe (or shall I say Guilt Groupe?) are the worst because not only am I tempted to buy the things from brands I already love, I am constantly being ‘educated’ in a sense about what else is out there and for how much.  Then there’s Shop It To Me, a self-curated system (you pick the brands you like and what sizes you wear) that sends you daily emails that aggregate all the sale items of the pre-selected brands from multiple online retail sites.  It’s less aesthetically seductive because there’s so much more stuff in each e-mail, but can be a deadly timesuck nonetheless.

These days with Oprah hawking sites like ideeli, and other targeted invitation-only sites like Rue la la popping up on what seems to be an almost weekly basis,  it’s clear that much like porn, product ogling has moved entirely online.  Just as the sex shops and peep shows of yesteryear have been cleared out to make way for on-demand porn on tv and the web,  windowshopping has been replaced by a sort of ambient 24-7 virtual consumption experience.  For sure we’re spending less money cus we have less of it now…but are we actually ‘shopping’ less?  I don’t think so.  Even if it’s not necessarily leading to purchase, we’re all probably dedicating a lot more mindspace to filtering through these endless streams of products, trying hard to ward off the feelings of desire they elicit.  Whether you’re up until 2am browsing Ebay or flipping through Lucky magazine, for many of us, obsessive consumption (both real and imagined) is still alive and well despite the times.

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About suite2046

Trend Analysis & Applied Futurism. London / NY / Tokyo.

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