Are we programmed to shop?
I had to spend money today. Not because I shopped and gave in to temptation, but because of my health. One of the bug bites I talked about a few days ago is infected (gross) and I need to go on antibiotics and strong allergy medication. Like many writers/artists/servers, I have no insurance and must pay for the medication with cash. This is not the problem – I’m ok with stretching the rules of the experiment to ensure that I don’t get sick from a bacteria infection. My issue is how hard it was for me to sit in Shoppers Drug Mart and wait for my prescription without buying anything else. I had to force myself to sit in the back and talk on the phone with my friends, so I didn’t start thinking of all the things I wanted to buy.
Why is this? Is it because we live in such a capitalist society that property and money are valued above all else? Or is it a comfort thing – something we grew up with? “Retail therapy”? ABC Science published an article last December suggesting there are many factors that influence us to shop including genetic make-up, marketing, dopamine-producing brain function, and hunter-gatherer instinct. I’m not sure I agree with everything said in the article, but it is an interesting read (click here).
I never think of myself as a shopper. I don’t go out to Aritzia (an upscale clothing store, for those who don’t know) and spend $700 on clothes I will only wear once or twice like some people I know do. I’m good with money and savings. But I still have the instinct that buying objects will make it all better, or that I need to try the newest chocolate bar on the market. Growing up surround by things that say that shopping is important (if people don’t spend, capitalist society doesn’t work and we go into a depression), it’s hard to resist the latest trends or buying new mascara in Shoppers Drug Mart waiting for my prescription. I’m not sure if our genetics have programmed us to shop, but society (and the advertising industry) definitely has!