From finding bargains to avoiding noisy crowds to buying your fave stocking stuffers in your sweats, there are plenty of legit reasons to do your shopping online rather than at your local mall during the holiday season. However, I’m here to defend the sanctity of mall shopping.
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Maybe I’m more sentimental than most shoppers because I grew up in the ‘90s, the definitive era of what it truly meant to be a “mall rat.”
But, LBH: As we’ve grown from an authentic, analog world to a disposable, digital one, the need for more meaningful connection and IRL experiences is more important than ever. Which brings me back to the mall.
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The mall is the ultimate human experience. Where else can you literally bump into people from all walks of life – while also munching on cheese fries? I mean, I’m sure you could polish off a plate of cheese fries while perusing your favorite online shopping site, but where’s the fun in that?
At the mall, you’re bound to run into old friends, co-workers, and even new crushes. Being at the mall offers you an opportunity to socialize and interact with people so much more than the click of a button.
And let’s not forget, it’s basically the best bonding experience. Had a fight with mom? Take her to the mall for some instant retail therapy. Need to catch up with your bestie? Take her to the mall. You can help each other choose the perfect outfit so much easier in person.
You can try on your new clothes for each other and check for fit, form, and just the right amount of flirty-ness. Buying a special outfit with a friend – like the time I was there to help choose the dress my friend would wear the night she ended up meeting her future husband – becomes a lifelong, and tactile, memory.
Here’s another thing: If someone you know is in need of an etiquette lesson, go to the mall. By interacting with cashiers and sales associates, you not only learn to value the assistance and opinion of strangers, but you also learn just how difficult it can be to work in customer service.
People yell at cashiers and demand all sorts of extraordinary feats that border on the impossible all the time, as if sales associates are magical, or Santa Claus, or both. It’s not pretty. You don’t want to be like these people. By witnessing these atrocities, the mall hopefully pushes you to be a more patient, compassionate and understanding citizen. Cashiers are people, too!
Which brings me back to holiday shopping. We all know that shopping at Christmastime is literally the worst. Yes, the malls are crazy busy and crowded, but there’s a special kind of camaraderie that exists amidst the holiday hustle and bustle.
We know we are doing this to ourselves every single year; we know that we might not really need to buy those fuzzy socks or that new electronic thing, but we do it anyway because ‘tis the season. And buying = giving, and to give is to be human, and I want to be reminded that I’m a feeling human being, especially around the holidays. Not someone who clicks mindlessly at shiny, pretty things on a computer screen.
As I literally bump into friends and strangers at the mall during this time of year, there’s that sense that we’re all in this together that can only exist in person, not online. And that’s sacred.
Plus, there’s cheese fries.