My secret fetish is stationery. Show me a stationery shop, and daddy will make it rain like Jay-Z.
My house is filled to bursting with pens, pencils, post-its, staplers, highlighters, and notepads because there’s nothing I love more than buying an expensive notebook, caressing its creamy paper, then vandalising it with half-formed shower thoughts.
Buying useless crap is surely one of Capitalism’s greatest pleasures. So it seemed like manna from heaven when a paying client asked me to spend one day buying every single item that was advertised to me.
They were trying to make a point about consumerism or something. I didn’t read the whole email because they had me at ‘buying shit’.
Buying every single thing I see for one day? All expenses paid? Sign me the fuck up.
On Monday morning, I awake with a song in my heart and a feeling that all is well in the world. After finishing a delicious breakfast of Gardenia bread with nothing, I wave goodbye to my parents before eagerly skipping off to a day of company-sponsored retail therapy.
On the bus, I keep my eyes glued to the road for ads and it isn’t long before I, erm, fall asleep for a lack of stimulation, because Smart Nation killed the bus ad.
40 minutes later, I open my eyes and see my first advertisement of the day in Bidadari. On a massive billboard reaching into the sky was a beautiful Chinese woman, beckoning me forth … to BTO for a flat. About a minute later, I see another BTO advertisement, and then another, until I finally come across something that I—an unmarried man—can legally purchase.
The day is not off to a good start.
Every morning, the RICE team meets to discuss ‘editorial matters’.
Because discussing editorial is a lot easier than writing editorial, we usually spend about 2 hours talking nonsense before we reach a consensus.
In 90% of all meetings, the consensus is: “We can revisit this at a later date”.
This morning, however, I use my time in a productive manner and buy 1kg of Kimchi.
Whilst trying to find their checkout button in the e-commerce hellscape, I am served 3 more ads. So I end up buying not just one pair of size 7.5 Puma Ignite Golf Shoes (black), but also one kilogram of Bibigo Kimchi, 2 bottles of lavender-scented aromatherapy oil, and a Christmas tree from Bangladesh.
Whilst checking my phone for the credit card verification code, my finger wanders over to Instagram. Within 5 minutes, I’ve added 3 items to my shopping list: a Topologie Kalymnos Bracelet, Preetipls’ THICC T-shirt, and a Transformers Bumblebee Action Figure.
Topologie’s marketing copy reads ‘Inspired by rock climbers and alpinists’, but with a ‘tailored design for urban explorers’, so I am going to assume this bracelet is for hipsters who want to appropriate the rugged ethos of rock-climbing, whilst using an elevator.
The metal on the buckle is made from brass, which the company reassures us ‘will age naturally overtime’.
You can’t buy everything you see. It is impossible because pausing your life to buy things means getting more ads for things, which in turn forces you to buy even more useless crap and thus view more ads, so that you—the consumer—will spend the rest of eternity chasing down a shopping list of items that is forever-expanding, like the universe itself.
Case in point: Lunchtime.
A colleague and I decide to visit a Korean restaurant for lunch. On our way out, we see an advertisement for Hite Beer. Whilst on our way to the supermarket to buy Hite Beer, we are forced to stop and buy:
1. Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
2. Silas Marner by George Elio
3. Organic Bordeaux
4. Banana-flavoured shampoo and conditioner from The Body Shop
5. A Jumbo Pack Of Kinder Bueno from NTUC
I was too exhausted to walk back to the NTUC from whence I had just came, so I bought my pickles online. They were delicious but I wish I could say the same for this box of Special Edition Durian Kitkat, which Redmart suggested as a side dish.
The Puma seller from Qoo10 calls. My golf shoes are actually out of stock but he can offer me alternatives.
“I send message on Qoo10?” says the man in Bangalore.
“Okay, just message me,” I reply.
No message ever arrives.
But if you want Rich People Psychic Powers, reading Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind is not enough. You will also need to enroll for T. Harv Eker’s Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind Web Seminar.
I love animals, cartoons, and cartoon animals, so I was happy to buy a book of animal cartoons. However, I had no idea how to walk down Orchard road without spending the GDP of a small African nation. So for 5 minutes, everyone please pretend we live in a parallel universe where Balenciaga, Victoria’s Secret, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton do not exist.
I arrive at Kinokuniya to buy SAD ANIMAL FACTS but leave with SAD ANIMAL FACTS, Augustman, and Prestige Magazine. In a cruel twist of irony, SAD ANIMAL FACTS brings a smile to my face while Augustman causes me great sadness because it is a magazine that is designed to make every man feel like he has failed as man. Every model looks like a Geneticist’s wet dream and every page is a minefield of luxury ads ready to explode your budget.
After 5 minutes of feeling depressed, so I went back to reading about how baby killer whales can’t sleep.
Judging by the reviews on social media, Kemono chicken is probably the greatest chicken ever roasted in the history of rotisserie. Mediacorp ‘Artiste’ Zoe Tay says so and so does 94 other people on Google and Facebook, all of whom have hailed Kemono as the best thing since Sliced Bread.
Upon closer examination, 70% of these people seem to be influencers of some kind. I say this because they
- a) Are all skinny Chinese girls in shorts
- b) Have never reviewed anything else, and
- c) Gush about Kemono chicken the way my ex-girlfriend gushed about the models on Augustman.
Then again, even the great and noble ST has endorsed the ‘World’s Healthiest Roast Chicken’, so what do I know?
Well, I know that cost $25.90 and tasted like a supermarket roast chicken.
After a long day of running around to buy random crap, getting ads for random crap, recording my feelings about random crap, and checking on the delivery status of random crap, I am done.
I am exhausted and I just want to unwind with a glass of Organic Bordeaux and a game of DOTA before I sleep.
And that’s how I end up buying the crapp-iest and most random thing of all: a sparkly $1.19 dress for my in-game bear.
I punch in my credit card details for the final time and spend a few moments admiring my Coachella-ready warrior bear before shutting off my laptop and going to bed.
No sooner do I open Instagram than I am bombarded by a flock of hipster bracelet companies. Tom Hope Anchor bracelets, Zorrata Designer Stone Bead bracelets for men, Nautical-themed paracord bracelets, Truprojects bracelets, customised horoscope bracelets, and the postmodern abomination that is the Kundalinispirit bracelet—which is a lucky rope bracelet made by Tibetan monks who recite mantras over every knot, and worn by devoted buddhist Leonardo Dicaprio.
The mantra recited is probably Buddha’s most famous teaching: “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. Except on Instagram. #namaste”
There are few things in the world that benefit from excess, and bracelets are not one of them.
In summary, don’t buy every piece of flotsam on the internet that strays across your path. For a more mindful approach to consumerism, check out IUIGA. The website offers affordable but quality products with low markups sold under a transparent pricing system that tells you the exact labour and material costs that went into each product.