Stemming the online shopping tsumani

Do you go shopping every day? I do.

I begin the day by opening my e-mail, café au lait at hand. Before 9 am., I have virtual-window shopped, if not purchased. My in-box delivers sale offers and announcements of new arrivals; blogs increasingly link to vendors. 

(Why have so many blogs become Trojan horses for retailers? Maybe because earning commissions beats writing for free. )

By 9 am., I am pondering things I had not even thought of the day before: a seersucker skirt! That opal pendant! All pretty things, some even bargains, but usually unnecessary, even as the sites cry, Treat Yourself! Up to 70% Off!

The ready excuse: I need to see what's out there, for the Passage. But numbed by a glut of commerce, I've said goodbye to "by invitation" shopping sites and unsubscribed from most retailers. I'll keep reading a handful of style-oriented bloggers who provide thoughtful commentary, and who seek that rare intersection of beauty and value.

Barb, a friend of forty years, and I recently reminisced about the days when going shopping was a focused, time-bound activity. We carved out at least a half-day, which always included lunch. And we did not go that often; first, we couldn't afford it, and second, once you saw the season's sportswear at, say, Hudson's, nothing else would come in for at least two and a half months.

Shopping was paradoxically more fun and more serious, more significant. When you counted out cash, you were truly parting with your money. We learned about debt and the folly of "paying for it next month".

Then came the online world, with its constantly-updated stock, daily flash sales, and seductive one-click "payment systems". Women, including me, suddenly found their discipline eroding if, fanning a hot flash and feeling blue, they discovered a deliciously discounted bag on eBay, never mind all those in the closet.

The blog world jumped in, gasoline on the flame of desire. Somebody shows her new Stella McCartney Elyse shoes (well over $1,000) so why not buy the $60 Vans I'm liking? I'm somehow saving money, and therefore have more to spend, an effect known as Princess Dollars.

The flood of consumption promoted online is not doing me any good—even though I seldom buy—nor are the hours spent inert at a computer. If you live on a flood plain, it seems the wise strategy is to clear off.

As I prepare to head off-line for the Passage's usual July-August break, I'm considering what I will write, should I return in September. Perhaps you'll have requests; I'd appreciate that.

Not sure what to do, but to paraphrase Robert Evans, the pearls stay in the picture.


Unsubscribing is critical to keeping the shopping links to a minimum; it's so easy to wander down that rabbit hole of looking at things, and leaving one's budget far behind...
have a wonderful break,
and don't EVER let go of the pearls (clutch them!),
big hug,
Madame Là-bas said…
You have hit the nail on the head today, Duchesse! I just got up, opened my mail and deleted several special offers. Last week, I did a major "unsubscribe". As I am retired longer and after having spent 10 weeks in Mexico, I have lost a lot of my interest in shopping. I still enjoy "putting an outfit together" but I don't have the same need for variety. Hugs to Janice for showing us with her weekly "what I wore" posts that most weekly outings can be accommodated with a basic wardrobe. Greater simplicity in wardrobe means that we can devote our thoughts and energies to other endeavours that are perhaps more meaningful than what we wear on our backs. Thank you for posting some really thought-provoking blogs in the last few weeks. Have a great blogging break and I still love to read about the pearls.
LauraH said…
My thoughts exactly. While in Chicago and checking email, it became so apparent that my in box consisted mainly of disguised advertising so into the trash with many subscriptions. Somehow this is clearer when I'm away. Subscriptions can be incredibly useful to focus on something I'm really looking for but short term only.

Have a wonderful summer.
materfamilias said…
I've been feeling this for some time as well. Sad to look bad and trace the changes from when I first started reading blogs 10 or 12 years ago and then writing my own and participating more in the community over the last 8 years. As you do, I understand why so many bloggers decide to monetize to various degrees rather than simply write for free (it's so much work, even when it's a joy!). But the space has become a landmine of temptation, so insidious. . .
But pearls, pearls are good. And so is your writing, and I do hope you decide to keep writing here.
Anonymous said…
I enjoy your posts. It's not all about fashion; a little goes a long way. When I had a writing blog I didn't have any advertising on it. It would seem I was endorsing the products. The recent post about the boy you knew and his obituary was touching and made me think back. Life for older women in all its aspects offers many topics.
Barbara said…
SO true. In the meanwhile I unsubscribed of the most "Newsletters". Not only money- but also time consuming.
Considering a buy, a friend always asks himself: "Does it change my life?".
Often you can leave it at this;-).

It's sad that most blogs go for commercial and loose credibility, although one wrote "she gets very little" money for it.

You will be missed during your summer break and I'm looking forward to a great mix of topics (including Pearls) which are Fressange-Rodin-andsoonfree.

Jean S said…
I love your thoughtful commentaries, always. The pearls are a bonus.

Unsubscribing is a source of joy.
I agree that there is a tendency to overbuy and the internet has us hooked. We are a captive audience...
I have ads on my blog but I am not getting rich.

As a retiree I do not feel the need to constantly be buying more clothes but the temptation does arise from time to time.
I rarely shop online as I like the more personal and tactile approach to shopping of boutiques and thrift shops.

Hang onto those pearls and I do hope that you come back in many have left and it feels rather lonely some days when the women bloggers of a certain age are silent.
Enjoy your vacation.
Anonymous said…
"should I return"....I hope there's no 'should' about returning except to know that you have fans who want to hear what you have to say. I have learned so much about pearls from you, have grown to love them and have actually bought some. All because of you. I hope you have a wonderful renewing and refreshing summer and hope you do return with more wisdom about pearls, gems and classic clothes.
Write about whatever you want – it's always interesting. RIP childhood friend – that was so insightful and touching.
Vancouver Barbara
LPC said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn said…
Write about anything in your blog and I'll count it as a gift. While I understand the lure of monetizing a blog, I can't help but think it alters something important in the relationship between the reader and the blogger--promises and protestations not withstanding. Being told the income is minimal somehow makes the whole situation seem even sadder.

I read your blog, Duchesse, for your thoughts, musings, social commentary, wit, and insights, not for reviews of skirts and scarves. Write about skirts and scarves, not to induce me to purchase said items, but because they are a part of YOUR world.
LPC said…
Deleted my comment. Realized that people commenting here might inadvertently hurt my feelings;).
LauraH said…
Your knowledge, experience, approach to life and wisdom are refreshing and inspiring. I look forward to Tuesday and Thursday to read what's on your mind and in your life. As I've said in the past, I've learned so much from you, clothes and jewellery yes but many many other things as well. Hope you'll continue, I would miss your voice.
I always enjoy your blog posts and read them faithfully, though I really have nothing to say about pearls - your posts make me appreciate them outside the "clutching" stereotype, though I still prefer intricate silvery things. I was deeply touched by that last post. In many ways, I was that kid, though in a deprived and dysfunctional family of a far higher cultural level.

I can't say it made me cry, as I was already crying when I read it, as it was the day I woke up to those innocent people murdered when at prayer in Charleston SC. A bit of a trigger as that was so similar to the secular immersion in thought at Polytechnique, and I was at a neighbouring Université de Montréal building that evening, writing a graduate history exam, as an adult student. In both cases, the killers were taking advantage of their prey being so deeply immersed in thought that they wouldn't even see the weapon until too late.

You are under no obligation whatsover to continue your blog, though many people appreciate it greatly. I'm actually reading the Papal Encyclical on the environment - something I NEVER thought I'd do, and no, I'm not about to return to the fold, but I think it is an important statement on what Marx or Freud might have viewed as commodity fetishism, and the Pope, of course, as sin.
MJ said…
My problem is that I read only a few fashion blogs (you, LPC, une femme, for example) and I see so many nice already-curated items that I all too often buy something that I see on one of those/yours. The emails from retailers rarely tempt me, perhaps because I look at them so rarely - mostly I just delete them en masse. The Nieman Marcus small catalogs that are clearly aimed right at me are another source of temptation.
Anonymous said…
I too have unsubscribed from many blogs and am tired of the continuous emphasis on more, more, more. Also, I am suspicious about certain blogger's motivations for writing as some seem primarily pitched to feed into this phenomenon and earn them commissions.

I hope you return after your break - I am a faithful reader each Tuesday and Thursday and yours is one of my favourite blogs. However, I do realize that it must take a lot of time and effort and you may wish to spend that elsewhere. I love your passion about pearls and your wisdom and experience about life. You are willing to explore some of the difficult questions/subjects and that's one of the things that makes your blog so enjoyable.

Hope you enjoy your summer :).

Francie Newcomb said…
I love your blog and appreciate your viewpoint a great deal. You inspired me to purchase my first Eric Bompard sweater and I have worn it and worn it. I also think you have a great eye and fashion sense but you never seem to inspire acquisitiveness for its own sake. Please keep your blog open. You are so thoughtful and have so much to say.
Anonymous said…
I love your blog too.....have a lovely summer!
Cathy Wong
Anonymous said…
Please say you are coming back! I am somewhat addicted to my favorite blogs and would be dismayed if you abandoned yours! Have a wonderful summer!
Anonymous said…
I recommend reading, Tears of Mermaids-The Secret Story of Pearls by Stephen G. Bloom. It is a fascinating account of the history of pearls. I am working my way through it and have read some chapters twice. have a great summer! My son just came off of the pearl boats in Broome, Australia. he loved being a deck-hand. I will have to wait to hear about his adventure.
Anonymous said…
God, yes, internet shopping is way too easy! As you say, in The Before Time we used to Go Shopping - sometimes to see, sometimes with a list - but either way it was a small, local sample in comparison with the infinite global marketplace we now have at our disposal. Now we see things we never would have, before, get ideas we never would have, before. It's getting tiresome, though, and I find I'm doing less - call it "retail fatigue" - I know I haven't seen everything, but sometimes it seems like it!

I also miss the days when it was fun to go to the grocery store, to see what was in season......

Please do keep the pearls, though. I learn so much from you, though I must admit I did a little pearl shopping after reading your tips.....
Anonymous said…
A long time reader, first time commenter. I realize I am contributing to your hesitancy to continue blogging. I read regularly and prior to this, never commented. But, please continue. I love your honesty and your perspective.

AdBlock is my friend - blocks most (not all) of the ads on the blogs I read. I have also stopped reading many bloggers who have decided to write sponsored posts on a regular basis and/or write regular posts with merchandise links. They have a choice and I have choice. I do not understand why there need to be a monetary reward for pursuing something that brings pleasure.

I also start wondering if there isn't some hypocrisy involved. "I'm a retiree and the small amount I earn helps pay for the time I spend on my blog." If the returns for monetizing are truly so small - why bother? If the blogger truly needs some extra cash, why not find a part time job?

Yes, I'm signing as anonymous because I don't have a blog and I usually lurk.
Anonymous said…
I enjoy your POV, from up north and a different decade than myself. Thank you for sharing your voice.
I find myself reading fewer blogs each week. My bookmarked blogs consist of two and I subscribe to four. The fashion blogs feel so limited, say, compared to my recent subscription of the Wall Street Journal.
Anonymous said…

Isn't this relevant? We continually reach for the ideal wardrobe, but maybe it is just too much focus on energy which could be spent otherwise.
Anonymous said…
I really hope you will continue to write in the fall. You are a genuine,articulate and honest writer.

I'll admit to spending too much time"window shopping" online. I consider it research in a way.
I rarely purchase,since I'm not an impulse shopper.
I would love to see you write about blog etiquette. In some ways we are a self selected readership
yet we are diverse. Feelings can be bruised on both sides of this equation.

The world is way too commercial for my taste. I don't like being hounded by ads all the time.
Some blogs are an extension of a business and that's fine if you know it up front.
Others are more personal. Very hard to switch it up midstream.
Thank you for writing and being honest and open minded.

Anonymous said…
I am a regular reader but have not commented before. I hope you return in September as I look forward to your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. That said, I wish you the best, whatever your decision. Thank you for the gift of your blog. Joanne
dana said…
Check out this ad I received yesterday -- immediately thought of you!

(I'm only on their list as a customer of crystal items, purchased for my employer)
Duchesse said…
Karen: I know of the book and have been kind of circling reading it; you have encouraged me.

dana: Wow, much of this is jaw-dropping and its is SO good to see the Tiffany stones and techniques that made them great instead of that stupid, aspirational Return to Tiffany s--t.

All: Thanks for the encouragement; I shall be back in Sept.; I do need a break.
Well happy walking! Et bonne fête nationale du Québec.

I thought this NYT article might be worth pondering - no shortage of appealing unprocessed foodstuffs as Jean-Talon Market!
LPC said…
I thought about this a lot, put my hurt feelings firmly behind a stiff upper lip, and wanted to offer the monetizing blogger's perspective. Who is also retired, so, checking all the boxes;).

For some of us, the money from blogging is so little that we wouldn't make any substantial changes in what we write about to earn it. I have often said to myself, when considering a sponsorship or a post, "If I wanted to earn serious money but had to do something that wasn't authentic and fun, I'd go to back to a corporate job." (Of course, the corporate job was fun sometimes too, but I'm making a point.)

Perhaps you considered that already. But did you know that the various monetization platforms offer bloggers points of value beyond $? One, they provide data on who clicks what, and who buys what, thereby giving the blogger ideas about what readers enjoy. Two, they introduce you to new products and retailers, which I enjoy. Three, to me at least, the dollars earned feel like comments, like signs of engagement. Blogging can be lonely. Four, yeah, OK, the dollars earned to allow for an occasional "Whee!" purchase.

That said, I understand from these comments that there's only a slim chance I'll change anyone's mind. Some people resent the affiliate links, and sponsored posts. Sorry to lose you as readers.

Duchesse, have a nice vacation.
Rita said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Duchesse said…
LPC: There are many ways to blog; and people do it for a range of rewards, form tangible to intangible, and not one or the other.

I like your point about discovering new sources; it's a major reason why I began blogging. Friends were always saying, "Where did you get that? I can't find anything."

When I see •any• blogger "featuring" products which seem very far from her usual taste or price point, and have been provided by a vendor, I sense there is a profit motive operating. That's her choice.

Rita: I would request that you remove few words that call other commenters less than civil names, before I publish your comment.
Anonymous said…
Thank you LPC for taking the time to explain the situation. You've given me something to think about, too.
It was really good to hear all the good things that can come from accepting some advertising.
I like to know where items can be purchased, that's true. I just don't like to be exposed to advertising all the time.
It does turn me off. I don't find you to be that way. You are always tasteful, calm and considerate. You are more like a good friend sharing.
(I hope this isn't hijacking a link). Sorry if it is.
I'm pretty sure we go to places to hear what we want to hear.
Anon@ 5:58- above

Mardel said…
Excellent post discussing the very issues that have been revolving in my head. I miss the thoughtfulness of focused and intentional shopping, and find the barrage difficult. Even though I always loved "snoop shopping" even that looses its appeal when one is constantly faced with new merchandise, and it is difficult to avoid be affected even if one does not buy. At the same time I don't mind monetized blogs if the blogger offers a distinct point of view that I find interesting.

I suppose my own mixed feelings on the various related issues is part of why that I am not blogging about style or things at the moment. Therefore I need to thank you for reminding me to attempt to resolve my own mixed feelings.

And I love your posts on pearls and jewelry.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: I am approached several times a month to either review free merchandise (from sunglasses to watches to shoes) in exchange for reviews or to "work with" vendors by accepting a commission. At first I thought, "Wow! Great", but then thought long about it, and did not accept the offers.

Underlying this debate is the notion of paid work vs. a hobby, or voluntary work. II have noticed in other discussions on the topic, a tone of disdain for bloggers willing to offer their writing for free basis. One person said, "Why not make a buck?" It's a reflection of our values, when we only respect what earns money.

If bloggers would like to be paid, there is another option: the donation approach, such as blogs like "Brainpickings"use.

LPC said…
Anon, thank you. I know we're supposed to all have rhino hides out here on the Internet but I keep waiting and it keeps not happening:). Kind words appreciated.
Rita said…
I didn't think I was calling anyone names by suggesting their objections to letting the blogger have the possibility of maybe earning a small commission are unreasonable. Not to mention that it's unfair to the blogger who is after all, fully disclosing a paid post. I think that saying the blogger who does that is losing credibility is really insulting. I would hope a reader would make that judgement or not, based on the reader's overall evaluation of the blog, rather just making an automatic judgement about it. I do think think there's some sense of being entitled to all the free information we get from the internet, and that attitude isn't always a good thing.
Duchesse said…
Rita: Please re-read your first comment; check the two adjectives that follow "are incredibly...".

Bloggers who monetize have an interest in earning money, as well as attending to the creative aspect of their writing. Even though each individual commission may be pennies to a few dollars, those add up when you have enough readers who buy following their link, or will click through to ads.

The blogger therefore has a primary or secondary purpose: earning. I don't see that as right or wrong, but it •is• a decision, and once that decision is taken, some bloggers are better at maintaining objectivity than others.

My own route has been to not embrace that model, for several reasons:
1. There is enough of it out there; I'm not into driving the engine of consumption more than I already do, and
2. Sooner or later I'd be swayed to see how much I could earn, which would change what I write- I know myself.

Rather than having a "sense of being entitled", my perception of readers in the Passage is that they are appreciative, even when they disagree strongly with my post or another reader's point of view.

Rita said…
What I meant by internet users feeling entitled to free information is that it seems we've become accustomed to receiving so much free information that we resent being asked to pay for online newspaper subscriptions for example. We don't consider that having that attitude means the newspaper is forced to depend on advertising income in much larger proportions than ever before, while they are also forced to cut down on their budget for research and investigation. Then we complain about the quality of news coverage declining. Maybe we've joined the "race to the bottom" to the point where not only do we not not want to pay for free information, we resent a blogger making a small income because of something we may do, even though this setup doesn't even cause us to pay any more.
Sue said…
I enjoy your posts because of their range (recipes, friendship, travel, manners, childhood memories, fashion, pearls and so on) I like your independent mind and your honesty matched with kindness and perception.

I am in my late 60s and felt you were a kindred spirit(I know.I read Anne of Green Gables too!)when you wrote about the Vietnam war.

I hope you decide to continue your blog, but if not, thank you for the pleasure you have given to your readers.


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