A lot of my internet time these past few days has been taken up by browsing online stores. It’s largely been about running gear, which I don’t need right now, but will need more of down the line (to paraphrase Alexandra Heminsley: what is a new hobby if not an opportunity to shop?) SO WHY NOT. But I’ve also felt the desire to have a look around bookstores again, and the occasional clothing store.
Interestingly, it doesn’t make me want to buy anything. I happened to be in Oxford Street yesterday, calmly browsing the shops in the sunshine, without any desire whatsoever to take anything home. The same thing happens when I’m online.
I’ve tried to find out what it is about window shopping that excites me so much. But either my Google skills are failing, or there isn’t much science on window shopping in particular. It’s easy to find an article on dopamine and how it makes us go shopping until we get the high of buying something, but what if I’m not making the purchase? Is my “reward” simply that I could make one, if I wanted to?
The Minimalists have a really good podcast on stuff, including a segment on impulse buying. I don’t remember all of it, but one thought that stuck with me is that the buyer’s high doesn’t last far beyond the checkout line – if we buy something, it won’t make us happy for very long. (I rarely order anything online that gives me the same thrill unpacking it as it did when I decided to order it.) I keep thinking about that whenever I see something I might like: Is it going to add actual value to my life? Do I want to spend the money on it? Do I want to have to find a place for it?
At the shops yesterday, just the thought of buying new clothes made me feel queasy. There’s not a lot of space in my room, and I’ve just gotten into the habit of getting rid of things on a regular basis. I don’t want to have to find space for this new thing! I can barely fit the clothes I have!
So today I had another go at my drawers, and I now find myself with maybe two t-shirts to my name. Sooner or later I’ll have to get new ones. But until then, I’ll enjoy my mysterious window shopping “hobby” without the added pressure of having to make a decision on whether I want to buy anything. It’ll only be another week.