Your best friend finally got that promotion. You immediately gift her a monogrammed business card case (it’s symbolic!). Your sister broke up with her boyfriend. You see some stackable rings she’d love and add to cart (hey, if he won’t put a ring on it…). Your kid has been working so hard on his homework; he deserves that scooter. Your kid refuses to do her homework. Will she just try, please, for a new LOL doll? You miss your mom, who lives in a different city. That meeting could have gone better. You’re bored with a case of the Sunday scaries. You shop, you shop, you shop.
If any of this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. For an estimated 5 percent of the population (though anecdotally, we’d peg it as higher), shopping has become a dangerously reliable way to boost mood, alleviate stress and regulate emotion. For many of us, it’s also how we celebrate wins, recover from losses and show affection. And yet, when we use shopping as a coping mechanism or an emotional outlet, we rarely even use the items we buy. That’s because, per experts, it’s about the buying, not the using. It’s all just one big dopamine flash sale that never ends. As one media executive grappling with shopping addiction put it, “the internet is open 24/7.” Yes, technology has created a perfect storm of temptation, anonymity and same-day delivery.