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Adulting: Online Shopping and What It's Missing...

Online shopping has lost some of its dazzle for me.

While I constantly order from Amazon, it’s just not the same experience as browsing products in person. COVID has us all appreciating activities we took for granted, and I guess I took in-store shopping for granted.

My husband, familiar with my habits, pointed out a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, "Why Bricks-and-Mortar Independent Bookstores Really Matter", and I eagerly read it. Along with all kinds of stores, I do love a good bookstore. And in my opinion, writer Adam Stern gets it. He explains why bookstores are such a multi-sensory, worthwhile experience compared to scrolling Amazon for books on our smart devices.

Stern rightly points out that while Amazon may offer cheaper prices, there are benefits that it cannot offer. He likens it to looking at a picture of a cheeseburger verses taking an actual bite of one. And even if a cheeseburger doesn’t appeal to everyone, I understand his point. Even before COVID limited me, I would peruse for products on my phone. But as “smart” as my smart phone is, I’m not truly experiencing all that in person shopping offers.

How so? Well, check out Stern’s description of a trip to a bookstore:

Your whole body and mind are engaged in browsing: You drift around the stacks, drawn on by the rhythmic spines; looking, circling, bending and reaching; picking up books, this one larger or smaller in the hand, that one unexpectedly heavy; noticing the colorful designs; creamy or stiff paper; the smell of ink; you encounter other human beings in that space, doing the same thing, a browsing collective of curious minds.

Wow. This doesn’t happen when I’m scrolling through my Amazon wish list. My body and mind are not fully engaged. Any “drifting” I do is swiping my screen. I’m certainly not touching the books, and any smells are probably coming from my teacup nearby. Online shopping is absolutely not the same multisensory experience.

We are on our third lockdown here in England. To further limit contact, I order our weekly groceries for delivery. So, on the rare occasions I need to go to the grocery store, I find myself practically giddy because it’s a major outing. I step into the brightly lit aisles and enjoy the grocery store’s embrace as I’m immersed in colors, scents, and sounds.

Maybe a little ridiculous? Not for this gal who misses pre-COVID shopping. It’s wonderful to not take something for granted; I’d happily be a little ridiculous to appreciate the experiences I can still have. I'm doing what I need to stay positive, and I hope you are too.


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