In the grip of one-click commerce

It’s hardly an original phenomenon, that of the quarantined individual occupying some of his time — right, much of his time — transfixed by the latest goodie or gadget at an online store. Screen shopping (analogous to window shopping) or actual shopping (analogous to pulling out the plastic) are, at least for this laptop-leashed homebody, becoming a thing, and I’m sort of going broke. 

I’m “just looking,” gawping, craving, yearning and, oops, placing the cursor on the final button in the series that begins with “Items in Cart” and running through “Billing Information” and so on. These days, I’m all about the Place Order click. The little quiver it fires through my synapses triggers a delicious squirt of endorphins. 

That tiny physical gesture, which can amount to a giant fiscal gesture, is the point of no return. The order is in. The store has your digits, which will show on your card only when the product ships. (That is egregiously untrue. The moment I click, my card is invariably, simultaneously charged.)

Actually, it’s not the point of no return, because return policies are mostly generous and convenient. Indeed, I am the Cancellation King, the agitated avatar of buyer’s remorse. So often I will order something at night and the next morning, in a stomach-clenching panic, hastily cancel the order. I do this with ridiculous regularity. The folks at Amazon probably don’t even process my orders anymore until a good 48 hours have passed. 

I’m not just treating myself to stuff during this flirtation with errant shopaholism. Besides tons of books, the only “fun” purchase was a rather pricey electronic drum set, which is only frivolous if you think a lifelong hobby and creative discipline is frivolous, and I don’t. It’s fun, but it’s also enriching and therapeutic, even cathartic.

This week’s acquisitions from online retailers include: an iPhone stand for the drum kit (longish story), a comfy cushion for my rock-hard drum stool, a pair of my favorite drum sticks, and two boxes of V8 juice, eight big bottles in all. 

(I labor under the wholly unreasonable conceit that this vegetable juice is the secret elixir for humanity’s immortality. Which is nuts, because I don’t even want to live forever. Yet I do want to combat agonizing disease and retain glowing skin. And so: V8, voluminously.)

Some other recent orders: at least 20 books (separately); toothbrushes (which were so bad I got an instant refund); hair goop; bar soap; exfoliant; a pair of green shorts; three caps (emblazoned with logos: The New York Times, Metallica and, dear reader, Gnashing); and film t-shirts (Scorsese, “The Elephant Man,” Columbia Pictures, RKO Pictures, A24 Films).

A few things I cancelled: socks, batteries, floss, reading glasses, stacks more books. 

Most of my purchases are, to my mind, essentials. These aren’t reckless sprees; they’re well-considered Covid consumerism — even if I did finally cave and sign up for Amazon Prime, a dark and foreboding development that can only lead to incalculable folly.

Buying stuff is invigorating for about 20 minutes, like a drug, and then you come down and feel fried and deflated. But then the buzz returns: delivery day!

Or, if you’re me, you place an order, marinate some, then dash and click cancel, like it never even happened. Negation — sometimes that’s the best shopping experience of all.    

2 thoughts on “In the grip of one-click commerce

  1. Hah! Tragically, this describes me perfectly. Except I don’t cancel. Never. Once I place the final click, I am deeply invested in the excitement of delivery day. Can’t mess with that, can we?
    We have a veranda that I decided to finally turn into an area we could utilize, so my purchases include two indoor/outdoor rugs, plant stands, clay pots and saucers, suet for the birds in the yard and colorful wooden, folk-art fish for the wall. Yes. All That.
    This in addition to the many books I have ordered, naturally. And, OK, an ice cream scoop … and other kitchen necessities. And a windsock David wanted for the dock. And inset, solar dock lights. And a pair of denim shorts and a pair of cargo shorts, only one of which fit. (We hate returns. But occasionally we must bite the bullet.)
    And … a birthday gift for mom. And … I’ll stop now.
    As a longtime Prime member, allow me to say I get my money’s worth.
    In other news, I proclaim each and every purchase you made to be essential.
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on, Anne! You shop with glorious eclecticism, far more colorful than my workaday purchases. Folk-art fish, ice cream scoop, a WINDSOCK? So great. It’s weirdly fun to shop online — hunt, peck, click, and voila! And your note is felicitous, as I just wrote a semi-sequel to the post you’re responding to. Thanks for reading and writing. xo!

      Liked by 1 person

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