The Patch

February 24, 2007

Saturday 24th February: The New Adrenalin Junkie

Filed under: Miscellany — Ames @ 10:28 am

Unless you’re some sort of Techo-Geek who gets worked up about new games console releases, computers and the Internet aren’t things usually associated with getting an adrenalin rush. While getting a comment or friend’s request on Facebook is fun, upping your friend count being a fun way to prove to yourself that you’re not a reclusive loner, it’s not something that gets the heart pumping. Well, unless it’s a request from the guy you’ve had an eye on for the past few weeks. Yet still, this cannot compare to the adrenalin-filled experience that is bidding on an item on eBay.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life blissfully unaware of the full force of eBay. Being debit-card-less, bidding on an item was time-consuming, and the borrowing of an eBay username and card details from parents meant that they could keep a close eye on everything that was being watched, or worse, bought. These conditions are ones in which it is impossible for a true addiction to the website to thrive, and so those early years were ones in which shopping was confined to being an after-work activity on a Saturday, or a case of browsing the Internet but never committing to typing in the credit card digits. It remained this way until the day, a few days after my eighteenth birthday, that a debit card arrived on the doorstep.

Giving a shopaholic a debit card and access to the Internet is an exceptionally dangerous combination. Browsing online often makes for a much more pleasant shopping experience that pounding the high-street: no crowds or over-zealous shoppers barging into you, being able to try the clothes on in your own home before deciding whether to keep them or not, missing out the queues for cramped, poorly lit changing rooms, and no need for having to queue to pay, or to lug heavy bags around town for the rest of the day. Consequently, making an actual purchase becomes an altogether more common event, and it often begins to feel as though there’s a new parcel arriving on the doorstep every day. But then factor eBay into the equation: high street fashion at charity shop prices. Items of clothing that other people probably won’t have. Being able to make up your debts by selling some cast-offs of your own. What we have here is a ticking time-bomb of a generation of debt-ridden, fully blown eBay addicts.

But the unbelievable cheapness of eBay isn’t the only reason that merely signing into the website makes your heart beat at twice a normal rate. No, eBay is an exception to the idea that making purchases online prevents a lot of the stress of Real Life Shopping. Infact, in terms of stress, eBay is the equivalent of opening time on the first day of the January sales: a violent, brutal experience, turning the nicest, friendliest of people into an aggressive, sneaky monster, watching a bid until the last minute, and outbidding the celebrating ‘winner’ seconds before the end of the auction. The defeated curses this devious nature, their fingers, sore from clicking every ten seconds towards the end of a bid, making a gesture towards someone they do not know, and who will never see. The winner, on the other hand, feels almost as if they’ve won the lottery; not only will they soon have a new item of clothing to parade around, but they got it with a big, fat, eBay sized discount. It’s this feeling of euphoria, of excitement, of the knowledge that you are now the proud owner of an item of clothing that many others also want, that puts you on the road to full-blown eBay Addiction. Soon bidding becomes something you do simply for the adrenalin rush that comes with seeing your name as the auction’s winner, bidding on items you would be unlikely to give a second look if you saw them in a shop for the pure satisfaction. In a day and age when people have checked into rehab clinics for texting addictions, it’s only a matter of time before someone is admitted for their eBay obsession.

Is there any other answer to this problem? Well, there’s always the option of cutting up the debit card, deactivating your account, and unplugging the Internet so you can’t create a new one (but then people might not buy from you- you’d have no ratings then!). But what if you missed a brilliant bargain? Someone might put up that dress you’ve been coveting, but never had enough money to buy at shop price. Worry about whether you may have won an item may be an issue now, but imagine the thoughts that would plague you if you could do nothing but sit powerlessly as those bargains were snatched away from you. That creating of an account is something dooming us to eBay addiction forever, but is this really a bad thing? Some people get their kicks from sport, others from rollercoasters; what’s so wrong with my fuel being Internet shopping? Well, besides the dwindling bank balance, the imminent RSI from refreshing the page every ten seconds, and the way in which it turns me into some form of demonic being…

…Anyone got a number for The Priory?

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