If online shopping ads were speeding bullets, I’d be the finest armoured waistcoat there is. I would have the durability and the resistance needed to obstruct any ammunition that’s fired my way, and endure damages from natural causes time and time again. No matter the pressures and temptations, I would be insuperable.
But like most kinds of body armour, I can only hold myself together for so long. The same way in this highly digital age, I can’t protect myself from these forms of modern-day advertising, which greet me at every click, at all times. I’ve become a ‘slave’ to the online shopping phenomena like millions of other Filipinos now spending most days in front of a computer or a smartphone. As much as I used to say I was an online shopping survivor, I no longer am one today.
How my online shopping story started and why I considered it a bad thing
The first time I purchased something online was in November 2018. It was a waterproof and shockproof Bluetooth speaker, which I barely use today. I bought it just after I came home from a trip to Siargao, where the device seemed to be the norm among beach goers. The green-eyed monster in me thought I needed one, too. So when I found out it was being sold for just a little over ₱1,000 on a well-known e-commerce website, I thought, why the heck not?
The next two times I shopped online were in 2019. I bought a set of packing cubes as I got ready for a series of work and leisure trips, and a new charging cable for my phone. By this time, I was too preoccupied to go to the mall (there’s an SM branch just a tricycle ride away), and would turn to the same e-commerce platform to buy things in advance. But nothing particularly spectacular came out of these experiences that made me want to keep my online shopping momentum going.
On the contrary, it caused a great deal of anxiety on my part to have to entrust my debit card’s details to a website being accessed by millions of people online. Not to mention, some feelings of doubt about the authenticity of a product, of impatience when I would wait for my order longer than I expected, and the usual buyer’s remorse when I would feel like I really didn’t need the things I spent my hard-earned money on.
There came a point when I’d even snark at online shoppers who’d patronise these websites and the whole idea of virtual sales. I became one of those people who thought I was better than everybody else just because I wasn’t as into online shopping as they were. “Invest in experiences, not things,” I’d even hear myself say to them in my mind. But out of need — with my work schedule getting busier, among other things — the tables have turned. And so far, I like how it’s turning out.
Experiencing its perks and realising it’s not as bad as I thought it was
Even as the first community quarantine happened in March 2020, I still considered myself safe from the online shopping mania. It took 15 months after that third online purchase before I was able to log on back to the same e-commerce site. And this time, I had no choice, because it was the only safe way to shop for the things I wanted and needed as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation.
In June 2019, I downloaded the mobile app of that very same company for the first time. Through it, I made my first mobile purchase — a wireless rechargeable trimmer to shave off my head because I desperately wanted a haircut. And the only way to do it was to buy my own equipment online, even as others already started to get the business done in newly reopened hair salons.
Finally experiencing the convenience of online shopping with my smartphone, I immediately ordered the next items on my eventual quarantine list, consisting of home decor, self-care, fitness, and most recently, home office essentials. Even though I’d already been working from home since the last five years, this was the first time I invested in items that would surprisingly improve my daily routine.
After that, I signed up for a different e-commerce app, followed a few brands on social media, and bookmarked a few sellers from a popular social media marketplace. I also made a longer list of all the items I planned on buying. Interestingly enough, these were the same things I held off for many years, not because I thought I didn’t need them, but because I was already so invested in my other commitments and hobbies. I might have survived all those times without them, but that doesn’t mean having them now won’t make my life any better.
An online shopping survivor turned online shopping ‘learner’
I wouldn’t instantly call myself a sucker for online shopping just yet, but I did grow a newfound appreciation for it. It’s convenient, it also offers amazing deals every now and then, and it’s really all about finding the right company or marketplace for you to truly get the hang of it. Like every other form of pleasure, it also involves discipline and moderation, I would learn.
More than the convenience of comparing prices, paying, and claiming an order, online shopping has also given me privacy in buying, less pressure to give in to wordy sales talks, and avoid physical crowds. What’s more, at a time when more people are turning to online selling for their main or alternative source of income, online shopping has become my way of supporting them. Through it, I was able to access more locally made products from provinces like Ilocos Norte and Quezon, something I haven’t done in a long time. Delivery drivers and riders have likewise been able to continue earning and providing for their families because of it.
Through all these pluses and minuses of online shopping, I managed to stay afloat when it comes to my finances, while developing newer ways to keep myself busy, entertained, and optimistic from home. I may no longer be the proud online shopping survivor that I used to be, nevertheless, I’m proud that I have been able to look at the experience in a more positive, personal, and self-fulfilling way.