The Haul: A Guilty Pleasure
I recently asked my instagram followers about what they thought of hauls (side note : I realize I have a tendency to ask other people’s opinions before expressing my own. I don’t know if this makes me wishy-washy or if it means I don’t want to try to sway anyone else before they answer. I’m bringing this up with my therapist.) and noticed a rather interesting divide – a lot of people just said they loved them, but the rest said they disliked them because of the consumerist implications. I found that the people who disliked them were keen to explain why, while the people who liked them didn’t say much more than express their glee. Verrrrry interesting. So here’s what I think.
I have a love-hate relationship with hauls. I think they’re kind of terrible, intellectually – but I’ll be damned if I don’t watch them anyway. Sometimes I even revel in the sense of superiority I get from seeing people flaunt their spending habits – isn’t that terrible?
Either way, a lot of the commenters who expressed criticism about hauls had some very good things to say – for example, many thought it was promoting a consumerist lifestyle. I agree. Some people said it made them feel pressured to buy more, and felt bad about not having enough disposable income. I agree again. Some people said it was boring or distasteful. The latter, yes – but boring? I don’t know that they are.
See, as I said, I find myself watching them, drawn against my will like a moth to the consumerist flame. And yeah, if the person in the video has crap taste and just shows off useless tacky garbage, I’ll be bored. But if they have good taste, shop at cute and unique places like little boutiques and antique stores – it can be blissful to watch them share what they’ve selected. There’s also something enticing about shopping by proxy – it’s like you went shopping with someone else’s money, and by extension, someone else’s consequences. I’m feeling spendy, a haul video can scratch that itch.
So what I do think is that the haul video is sort of a consumerist travesty but also a momentary escape from consumerism. It skirts the edge of being terrible while also compensating for that terribleness. If an influencer goes on a wild shopping spree, maybe I don’t have to.