A recent piece here about “The influence of fashion bloggers on retail” only states the obvious: Products that are flaunted by an online style arbiter are the new It thing to want and imitate.
This point was driven home to me by a look at Sea’s latest “find” from eBay, a stupid vintage band jacket. I went to eBay and typed in “vintage band jacket” and then clicked on “completed auctions.” Voila!
Seeing that the jacket sold for $426, I thought, OMG, what a sucker! But then I realized that this auction had JUST ENDED. This made no sense. Looking down the list of completed auctions, I saw an identical jacket that sold 5 days earlier for $90.
I think this means two things: 1) Sea’s fans are so desperate to imitate her that they will pay an inflated price to own a stupid band jacket. 2) Sea must be mortified that her kooky jacket isn’t one of a kind.
(Just kidding about number two!)
2) I have “too much time on my hands” or I am just nuts. Why else would I instinctively go straight to eBay to look for that jacket?
I am happy to have an answer to my own question, and I think it is hugely momentous. Humans have a drive that some scientists now call seeking. When you find yourself glued to your computer, clicking on link after link, googling shit that you didn’t know you cared about, looking desperately for something to engage your interest, you are displaying behavior that is hard-wired into your brain, behavior that would mean the end of your species if it were somehow extinguished.
Our brains are excited by the act of seeking, and the little bits of information we feed it serve to reinforce the activity. The internet provides the perfect tool for endless seeking, even though the search will never end in satiation. Unlike sex or ice cream, the internet search triggers our dopamine system without furnishing the opiate-like bliss that comes with satisfying a desire. It’s an endless loop. One that’s very, very hard to walk away from.
I’m going to get up off my asymmetrical ass and do something else. Maybe in time I can turn my seeking drive to curing cancer. Right now, I would be happy if I could direct it toward finding a job or even my watch.
Later, I know I’ll be clicking on all the links in that Slate article and my brain circuits will be ablaze with futile excitement.