Buying Something Under The Influence

Remember the good old days when you walked into a store and bought something that caught your eye?

Maybe you walked in and saw a compelling outfit on a mannequin. Maybe you sifted through the racks until you found something that felt like “you”. The point is, you picked something out because you liked it. 

There was no precedent, no agenda.

In the age of Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, what have you, buying something because you happened to find it and like it is becoming increasingly rare. 

I seldom walk into a store anymore or browse online shopping sites “just because”. I usually have an agenda. I’ll see a pair of loose-fit Agolde jeans circulating Instagram, decide I like the style, and proceed to hunt it down across the different online shops. Somehow, that repeated exposure convinces me that I “need” those same jeans too.

Even more crazy is that I constantly find myself lusting after the exact clothes I see worn by my favorite Instagram or YouTube fashion bloggers. I’ll spend hours, sometimes days, trying to find the exact piece they have like a detective, which in itself has become a hobby for me. 

Oftentimes, the piece I’m looking for is sold out or from last year.

That doesn’t stop me.

I then resort to looking on all the secondhand clothing apps — Poshmark, eBay, Depop, Mercari, and thredUp.

Only then, when I’ve exhausted all those platforms, do I truly stop my search, which truthfully fills me with a great sense of defeat. 

Realizing this pattern of weird behavior, I started to question why we enjoy wearing the same clothes as others. I even started to feel a sense of guilt or shame for wanting to do that instead of picking out items that I see and that I like.

I bounced these troubled thoughts off of my friend, who wisely said back that there’s no need to feel guilty. Back in the day, before the influx of social media, people would still see things on the store mannequins, in magazines, on people on the street and want the same item. The only difference now is those mannequins are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. 

Now, on the rare occasions when I do buy something I haven’t seen on anyone else and purely because I like it (thank you, personalized online ads), it feels like such an accomplishment, which is sad, because it goes to show how often my purchases are “tainted with influence”.