They say the international growth of the World Wide Web has resulted in an increase of online shopping. In reality it’s not that at all, it’s actually because real-life shopping has become such a wholly traumatic experience, no one dares do it any more.
I even find approaching the changing room an ordeal because intimidating shop assistants stand on the door; usually in a pack, assessing who they will or won’t be letting past – like six-stone bouncers in stilettos and micro-shorts. Eventually they let you inside the safe labyrinth of changing rooms, but they will still ignore you for at least a minute, pretending you don’t even exist and then looking at you nonchalantly when you declare you would like to be let through with two items. And you just know they’re judging them both.
Once inside you’ll inevitably pick the dressing room with the curtain that doesn’t close properly, with a huge, gaping hole that will leave you on total display and destined to show flesh. Flesh that scares even you, every time you invertibly see it, in the darkness of your own room – with all the lights off. And of course there will be someone’s boyfriend sitting outside – dragged in against his will to sit on the couch and give a false, overly complimentary opinion and this will usually be on a day when you’ve inexplicably got a wedgie.
By the time you’ve made it to the till, having awkwardly returned the unwanted items to the assistant, and rather than simply declining the clothes and walking away, feel the need to justify why you’re leaving half of it and more often than not, with utterly humiliating consequences. Hands up how many people have blurted out that they are a little too porky, too lanky, too plain to pull off the clothes you are suddenly thrusting into arms of an expressionless and uninterested shop assistant? “Oh it looks much better on the hanger than on me” – anybody!?
Once you’ve declined the 99% APR shop card with yet another deluge of excuses, it’s time to leave; a simple task of passing through the door. A door that is flanked by a big, scary, security guard. The one who already eyed you up as a potential shop-lifter the moment you walked in, and even with the newly purchased bag of goods in your hand, you just know he’s thinking you stole something and he’ll soon be rugby tackling you to the floor. It’s even worse when you haven’t bought a thing, then you know you’re going to walk out looking more suspicious than a burglar with a ‘swag’ bag. If you’re anywhere near as neurotic as me, you convince yourself that you look like a thief, and then end up acting like one, with shifty eyes, sweaty palms and a panicky demeanour. I’m sure they play up to it as well; always standing with one hand on their walkie-talkie, ready to call in the big guys at the push of a button.
So these are the real reasons we all use the internet so much – we’re all really terrified of online fraud but when compared to intimidating shop assistants, public displays of unintended nakedness and the daunting presence of a burly security guard, having a few hundred quid stolen from your bank account is almost a pleasure. And thankfully, if you’ve just been on a three-hour stint on ASOS, there won’t be any money left to swipe anyway.