The Shopping Vortex: Is Online Shopping Taking Us Too Far?

The shopping vortex. So, my dad had this thing: he got super obsessed with pulling out our espresso machine to whip up lattes for the fam. His only gripe? Not nailing that perfect foam swirl. Cue me, hunting online for latte art stencils in time for Christmas.

The Online Shopping Swamp

But, man, what a search! It wasn’t your regular online shopping scroll. Instead of legit shops with top-notch products, I got hit with a wild mess of unknown online stores. The screen was packed with sponsored listings, images, widgets – you name it. It felt like chaos.

These days, it’s like the entire internet is one giant shop. We’ve got these bargain bin stores like Amazon, Temu, and Shein, making it seem way too easy to buy stuff. Like, maybe a bit too easy? Amanda Mull’s piece in the Atlantic hits it: the internet’s got us impulse shopping without even blinking. And before you know it, that questionable midnight pet toy order is a done deal, and a “cat donut tunnel” is speeding your way.

The Shopping Invasion

Shopping is no longer a leisurely pastime; it’s a non-stop online marathon. TikTok Shop dropped in September, adding another shopping juggernaut into the mix. They’re all in a brawl for your attention, pushing marketing messages and deals non-stop. (Fun fact: TikTok’s dropping a whopping $1.5bn in an Indonesian e-commerce company after shopping on social media got regulated in Indonesia.)

It’s like you can’t catch a break from the constant shopping vibes.

Marketing Overload and Shopping Fatigue

But wait, consumers are feeling the burnout too. A survey by Optimove found that most folks want fewer marketing messages. About 27% of them feel like they’re drowning in marketing noise. And it’s not just on your feeds or inbox; brands are now texting you, dropping coupons, and tailoring recommendations to keep you hooked.

The Online Shopping Circus

Even though folks are tired of the marketing blitz, online shopping’s still in the spotlight. The UN says 12% of the planet’s population in North America and western Europe drops a whopping 60% of global consumer spending. And guess which platform’s hogging the spotlight? TikTok, known for its culture of excess. It’s getting heat for its culture of excessive skincare hauls and fast-fashion splurges, sparking a whole “de-influencing” movement.

Cheap Thrills, High Costs

But here’s the kicker: those quick, cheap buys? Often shoddy quality or made under dodgy labor conditions. Consumers are cool overlooking these issues, but it’s a hit on small businesses trying to keep up. Etsy’s 2019 move to sideline sellers who didn’t offer free shipping left makers in a bind: hike prices or take a hit.

The Race to the Bottom

It’s a whirlwind of overconsumption, with companies racing to cut prices and corners for more growth. But we might be hitting a wall. Online shopping’s turning shady and grim. The convenience isn’t worth it anymore. Case in point: for those latte stencils, I’d rather hop on a bus than dive back into that online shopping mess.