Guess we’re shopping on Instagram this year

Christina M. Tapper
Published in
4 min readNov 27, 2020



’Tis the season for shopping. Or so we tell ourselves. Though some of us have been shopping all year long due to a pandemic that has given way to increased screen time and an uptick to “virtual window shopping.” I like to think I’m disciplined with my money, but I do have my moments. You know, those times when you’re scrolling Instagram and an ad catches your eye? Perhaps it’s the ring light you tell yourself you need for better lighting during online meetings and events. Or maybe it’s another notebook (or two), though you’re not done with the three you’re already writing in. I’ve made these purchases in the past few months. I also spotted these items mentioned in a recent ZORA essay by Roxane Gay, where she candidly describes how unnecessary purchases help her in uncertain times:

“The near future is an endless stretch of virtual events, social isolation, mask-wearing, and hand-washing until the skin threatens to crack. These are ridiculous complaints, I know, but I am struggling. Every day my depression deepens, and shopping for ridiculous things, even simply browsing without buying ridiculous things, helps. Or it numbs.”

➡️ READ: Pandemic Dread Has Me Instagram-Shopping Nonstop

The pandemic illuminates our shopping behaviors, but capitalism is the most enduring and influential force. Capitalism ushers us directly to checkout lines with fiftyleven notebooks, gadgets, and throw pillows (the latter of which I almost bought on sale — I love a discount — before discipline kicked in and I closed the tab). Capitalism warps our mentality to make us believe that we aren’t enough, aren’t doing enough, and don’t have enough.

“It’s amazing how much useless stuff there is in this world and how easily we can convince ourselves that we need it. Actually, it’s disheartening. It’s a problem. There is too much stuff in the world and so much of it is overpriced and unnecessary,” Gay writes.

These days I’m more focused on buying the necessary. I continue to support Black-owned businesses to satisfy those needs: tea (Brooklyn Tea) and books (The Lit Bar). Stuff that heals, and are great gifts. In addition, I’ve earmarked money for monthly donations to my neighborhood food pantry in East Harlem, and made contributions to media startups founded by Black women: MLK50 and Capital B.

And right now, on this day of deep discounts and holiday spending, I’m avoiding social media apps and email deals ’cause Lord knows I don’t need another notebook or throw pillow.

Wishing you strength as you shop,
Christina M. Tapper, deputy editor

Illustration: Dani Pendergast

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“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” ― Maya Angelou

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Christina M. Tapper
Writer for

Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.