Unspending Spree

retailEven though many of us – gentlemen especially – might pretend otherwise, we’re all massive fans of shopping. Maybe not the routine supermarket sweep for everyday essentials, but few of us would deny that we quite enjoy, even if only a little bit, the opportunity to indulge ourselves, splash out on something special, or spend a day trekking around our favourite shops.

The only problem is cashflow – unfortunately, shopping can be far less enjoyable than it might be, thanks to the fact that we have to pay for goods, and when money is in short supply, or those objects of desire upon which we’re considering lavishing our hard-earned readies are just too damn expensive! All of us, at some time, have experienced ‘post purchase dissonance’ – that disturbing, nagging feeling that we’ve spent too much on something we really shouldn’t have bought, and internally beat ourselves up about it. There are occasions, of course, when these feelings are entirely justified – sometimes the temptation to succumb to the lure of the sale overwhelms common sense, rationality and sobriety and we end up splurging when we really shouldn’t.

If only lovely things were a lot more affordable…

Which they are, in SL.

The shopping bug is big business in the virtual economy – just take a look at the range of goods available on the Marketplace alone, and let’s not forget that not every inworld store is represented there either – SL is the ultimate platform for the inveterate shopaholic: A vast variety of desirables, often of high quality and holding significant appeal, and in real terms, all at knockdown prices. Even the most expensive virtual item requires very little outlay, and indeed, the more desirable and expensive the virtual item, the wider the disparity between the cost of real and virtual goods. A good quality slice of mesh cake, for example, might be sold for a couple of hundred lindens – not terribly expensive, and relatively close in price to its real world equivalent; scale up to a high quality mesh sports car, and you might be talking about splashing a few thousand lindens – a price we might balk at, but likely to tempt us nevertheless – whereas in the real world, that same sports car would be something we could only dream about possessing. SL brings the unaffordable within the reach of most pockets.

So we shop, and we shop with a vengeance!

vague_001I clearly remember making the transition from virtual freeloader to virtual consumer: that moment I first stood inworld, grasping my first wad of linden dollars in my sweaty pixellated palm and pondering what goodies were worthy of my hard-earned cash. Over the weeks, months and years that followed, my inventory became populated with shoes, clothing, gadgets, vehicles, buildings and a whole host of ephemera that I simply had to have. Sometimes, parting with the cash was hard, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and spend, spend, spend!

Then, suddenly, it stopped. My shopping habit petered out for no apparent reason. I certainly continued to visit stores and trudge the Marketplace, but my spending decreased to the point where it became almost non-existent – I had become a virtual window shopper; loving the shopping experience, but no longer feeling the need to consummate my consumerist desires. Within a short space of time, my inworld bank balance had reached a state of strange equilibrium – cash would go in at the beginning of the month to pay rent and with a little left over for tips and such like, but other than that, there was – excuse the pun – no change.

That isn’t to say that I never do anything to support the SL retail economy any more, I do, but I don’t do it very much at all any more. In some ways it’s slightly unnerving, in others it’s rather comforting: Having a somewhat addictive personality, there has always been the danger that I might bankrupt myself in the real world as a result of my inworld spending. That, it seems, is now unlikely to happen, thank goodness. In practical terms too, it’s good news – my inventory, which had grown to an extent that it had pretty much attained sentience, filled with items that had never been worn, used or otherwise employed at all, simply stopped growing and, ever since, all of those redundant items have started to find themselves pressed into service, and that can’t possibly be a bad thing.

It’s all very strange and I can’t explain it… And, if the SL retail economy does one day go bust, you’ll know who to blame!

s. x

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
The Clash – Lost In The Supermarket

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