Covid has made online shopping addicts of us all

The writer is a Washington, DC clinical psychologist who specializes in shopping addiction.

Impulse buying moments can happen to anyone. One night last winter, I noticed that I was tapping to “buy” a $ 300 sequin jumpsuit that I would probably never wear. After months of being caught up in a virtual blockade, despite the long end of the disco era, I have a fascinating urge to get the carefree Studio 54 type of life that jumpsuits represent. I was driven by.

Since the pandemic began, I have received a series of requests for advice on how to curb the shopping urge. Despite rising unemployment and economic struggles, online spending continues to break records.In the UK, the percentage of retail sales made online February 36 percent, Increased from 20% in the same month of the previous year. US shoppers abandoned their shopping malls on Black Friday and spent $ 9 billion online instead.This web-based activity can be degraded When the store opens, And people feel comfortable with them again. But a complete or permanent reversal is unlikely.

There are many reasons why people shop, boring, Lonely, depression And anxiety It is the most common precursor to shopping on impulse. And since the coronavirus, these are just the main emotions that many have experienced. Many people evacuated using internet browsers when blockades restricted their health activities, such as dinners with friends, trips, and trips to local pools. In one U.S. poll, 72% of respondents said they bought something impulsively to lift their mood during a pandemic.

Shopping can provide a sense of escape to the desired reality, distractions from unpleasant emotions, and ultimately controlling aspects of our lives that may be out of control. Like drugs, food, alcohol, Shopping stimulates an increase in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps uplift and temporarily paralyze us with negative emotions. Of course, the problem is that high dopamine levels wear out, driving the need for re-dosing.

In the early 20th century, psychologists Emil Kraepelin and Eugen Bleuler first recorded a problematic shopping addiction. At that time, it was called Oniomania in Greek. onios (“On sale”) and Mania (“Madness”). They found that individuals with disabilities experienced an uncontrollable urge to shop, resulting in excessive, costly and time-consuming retail activities that often had a negative impact. .. Psychologists have since identified a deep-seated tendency for humans to look to things to meet unmet needs. This starts with a cradle, and the baby reaches for his favorite stuffed animal to relieve the anxiety that arises from the absence of parents at bedtime.

Looking at products for emotional comfort continues even after childhood. Shopping addiction is most likely to occur when depression or anxiety persists. Therefore, as the pandemic prolongs, shopping addiction risks more and more of us. Retail “treatment” —using its improperly selected phrase — can quickly become a vicious circle. Purchasing products as a way to feel more empowered or to escape discomfort can be overly scattered and cause guilt. This increase in discomfort can in turn increase the urge to shop.

The modern ability to send products to the front door with a wave of fingers makes it even more difficult to resist these emotionally driven impulses. At the same time, efforts to manipulate and accelerate consumer online buying behavior have expanded and become more sophisticated.

Analysts have already mined data from computers, smartphones, fitness trackers and other gadgets with the goal of providing personalized product suggestions. The next step is to track the user’s emotional state in real time through voice, gestures, facial expressions and movements.For example, on Amazon Patented technology It is possible Allow Echo smart speakers “Happiness, joy, anger, sadness, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, [or] Respond to commands with “stress” and “targeted audio content such as audio ads and promotions.”

To counter this intrusion, you need to understand the motivations for shopping behavior and the tactics that the surveillance industry uses to manipulate these instincts.

If you’ve been shopping more than usual since Covid-19 arrived and want to quit, here’s a suggestion. The next time you suddenly find yourself browsing your necessities online, think about what you really need. Do you really want a new sweater, or a sports toy for your child? Stay away from your computer. You may be looking for more connections, excitement, normality, and joy.

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