Pandemic Dread Has Me Instagram-Shopping Nonstop

Author Roxane Gay on how unnecessary purchases help her regain control in an uncertain climate

Roxane Gay
ZORA
Published in
7 min readNov 20, 2020

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A small shopping cart and red computer mouse on pink background, symbolizing online shopping.
Photo: the_burtons/Getty Images

After nearly eight months of relative isolation, I have succumbed to Instagram ads which have, over the past while, become increasingly ludicrous. Or my inability to resist them has become increasingly ludicrous. It all started with an ad for a Lume Cube, a small LED light for better lighting on Zoom calls and during virtual events. It was a business expense, I decided. And it was very much needed because I was looking pallid, at best, on too many Zoom calls. When I started using the light, I felt gratified because everything looked so much better under the warm glow of a bright light. I now have two Lume Cubes and a couple ring lights. I’ve basically made myself a bootleg film set.

The nefarious algorithm quickly understood that I am a sucker for technology and all things miniature. I began to see ads for tiny projectors with alarming frequency. I already own a normal-sized projector, which I used the day it arrived and never used again. But it is a comfort, I suppose, knowing I could project something if I was so inclined. I have absolutely no need for another projector, let alone a tiny projector. But the ads depicted projectors that were all so tiny and adorable and such a…

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Roxane Gay
ZORA
Writer for

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.