After years of writing about trends, openly criticizing consumption is a form of catharsis for me. Still, I can recognize that overly simplifying the solution by advising people to stop shopping is not always productive or even realistic. We look to others tell us that our behaviors are OK, even when we know they aren't. And when it comes to shopping for new clothes, you can find that affirmation pretty much anywhere – especially on social media. This week it's about to get even easier to find because TikTok just announced that e-commerce will be the platform’s next big initiative. According to an online conference held by the company, shopping has already become a huge part of the platform since the beginning of 2020, and the expansion has been a long time coming. They pointed out that the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag has over 4.6 billion views – and likely a ton of off-app purchases as a result. Now, they will be integrating full-service shopping (where TikTok manages sale, fulfillment, and shopping), as well as partnering with already built shopping platforms like Shopify.
It’s great news for small brands who have found marketing on social media an easy and more cost-effective way to get their designs in front of audiences. I’m excited for them, because those are the kind of brands that I want to see succeed, and this can truly be a way to do it. When you zoom out though, for large fast fashion brands like Shein who have thrived on TikTok hauls and trend copying, direct shopping through the app is a recipe for over-consumption. The issue with social media, of course, is that it’s tailored to us. It knows what we want and when we want it. So far, it's been able to tap into our worst impulses through curated feeds and clever advertising, and TikTok may be the best at it. The platform’s mysteriously spot-on algorithm is too good to not trick our brains into thinking we need everything it pushes our way. Every time I open the app, I can spend hours on it because I’m seeing things I like and now, with shopping in the mix, it's going to make it that much harder to pull away.
Just because I’m saying “shop less,” that doesn’t mean I don’t also love to shop. I really, really do. So here is the advice I’m giving myself, presented to you in the form of quotes from the iconic and underrated 2009 book turned film starring Isla Fisher, Confessions of a Shopaholic.
“They didn’t even need any money, they had magic cards.”
I’m not sure how payment is going to work on the app, but if you DO buy something, don’t save your credit card info. The integration is already going to make shopping easier, so you have to add inconveniences. If you have your card info memorized, then, well, this won’t work. Maybe get a new card and try with all your might to never remember the numbers.
“Well, these cashmere gloves I *need* as it is winter, and I have hands.”
If you must shop, really examine the reason before you do it. Think about why you are buying that piece of clothing. Is it trendy and cheap? Then don’t buy it. Is it because everyone has it and #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt? Then keep scrolling.
“Now walk away, strong and frugal.”
When marketing to you, most brands recognize that you need to see something at least 7 times before taking any action. If it's something you really believe you will cherish and need, then sure, it makes sense. However, if you can spot the tactic, block the brand. Seriously, stop following them and even go as far as blocking them, especially if you find yourself susceptible to a good dance trend turned “buy me now” video.
“Everyone’s moving on without me, into a world I don’t understand”
Delete the app from your phone. Dramatic! Drastic! But sometimes necessary. If you want to cut back and are really struggling because of a certain app, seriously: Get rid of it and force yourself to redownload every time you want to look. This is probably a goal for all online situations, but, for example, if you are struggling with the amount you are buying on Amazon, take away the convenience they have given you.
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