Confessions of a Digital Window Shopper

Why does abandoning online shopping carts bring us so much joy?

Carly J Hallman
7 min readAug 1


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

To me, there is little as comforting, as joyous as clicking with abandon around an online shop and hitting Add to Basket. Over and over. Building an order, maybe even copy-and-pasting a discount code. Viewing the cart as a whole, proceeding to checkout, assessing the damage, nodding with disinterest at the calculated total, no matter how outrageously high.

And then there’s little as liberating as exiting out of the browser or closing the app. Discarding this digital basket, fleeing the scene and leaving that unique combination of items to float around in the online oblivion like a broken piece of satellite in space. Shedding the fantasy of this purchase like an unneeded skin.

Why do we derive so much pleasure, so much enjoyment from almost buying things? I mean, as Brandy once sang, “Almost doesn’t count,” right? But here, it does. Here, almost counts for everything.

Remember when we were asked to stay home? Our desires, our longings lived there with us, needy roommates, always hungry, never satisfied. Shopping cart abandonment or “fantasy shopping” became a big trend during the pandemic. A Vice article concludes that this habit served as a form of self-soothing. A way to participate in the world, even when it wasn’t safe to do so physically. But while I can and do go into real-life stores now, my online habit persists.

A couple of times a week, I happen upon some new store advertised to me on Instagram, do my thing. Log into Amazon, do it there. Selfridges, Allplants, grocery delivery apps, food delivery apps. Wherever, whenever. My posture changes as I conjure up and embody a person I might become, a life I might inhabit, if only I had the guts and the funds to click Buy Now.

Capitalism requires buy-in. Consumerism relies on us wholeheartedly believing in daydreams, lending credence to the idea that a better future is possible. Our wildest wishes are within our very real grasp if only

Until embarrassingly recently, I was financially illiterate. I didn’t know what a mortgage was, and, gun to my head, I couldn’t have told you a single true thing about index funds. Probably not entirely uncommon for…



Carly J Hallman

Just another 30-something writing about the internet, nostalgia, culture, entertainment, and life. Author, screenwriter, copywriter.