In recent times, social media has become an inseparable part of our lives. It emerged as a medium of alternate income for some, and a platform to showcase one’s artistic abilities for others. While bringing a positive impact on a lot of people, it also developed into a mode of destruction for many others. One is often bombarded with endless videos directed toward our screens through the algorithm. Unintentionally, the content becomes a huge part of one’s lifestyle. It starts taking control of our behavior and life by simply manipulating our reasoning and decision-making. One such variation of the content is the haul culture, spread across various social media sites.
The haul culture basically stands for a trend of videos, termed hauls, where people showcase the products they’ve purchased recently, and the positive and negative impacts the said products created in their lives.
This type of content is mostly consumed in the fashion industry. The internet is flooded with fashion tutorials, which may or may not perform well in terms of reach and engagement. The haul videos, however, bag a larger view count. These hauls are created to enhance one’s experience while shopping for their desirable entities. They turn out to be pretty useful for a better understanding of the latest fashion trends. While the idea sounds quite helpful, here are a few reasons why it could be incredibly destructive for some of us, especially when consumed irrationally.
Firstly, the haul culture promotes consumerism. Consumerism refers to the ideology of relating happiness with the assets we own. It endorses the belief that if one is consuming or purchasing more and more, he will ultimately achieve happiness. The more you have, the happier you are. Now there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the ideology itself, as it’s true in some cases. Few people actually attain a feeling of happiness on acquiring an asset. But it becomes toxic and destructive when done excessively or done to attain long-term peace and happiness, as honestly, happiness is not something that could be ultimately achieved by ticking off a bunch of stuff from our bucket lists.
Excessive consumerism puts you in a situation where your happiness and satisfaction become completely dependent on the things you are capable of purchasing, and you end up being emotionally exhausted. Your state of fulfilment and peace of mind is immediately pulled away when you find yourself in a situation where you are not capable to acquire the object.
Secondly, it has started to cause harm to the environment. The constant consumption of such haul videos thrown around social media makes us purchase clothing and stuff, just to fit into the latest fashion norm and look trendy enough to be socially acceptable. These fast fashion brands come up with numerous marketing strategies including festive sales to lure consumers into buying what fits the trend. That being said, fast fashion trends change within a span of a few weeks. This makes the consumer purchase clothing quite often, which includes pieces they might not wear after one or two uses. The out-of-trend clothes create bulks of waste, which puts the dumping grounds in a difficult situation.
Lastly, the haul culture has been causing tremendous damage to the mental health of the masses. Most of the time, the haul videos are sponsored by fast fashion brands where they target the masses by getting their product endorsed by renowned influencers. The strategic video titles with must-have thumbnails constantly try to shove down things into our wardrobes that we don’t really need.
These videos promote toxic perfectionism by creating a false need to consume certain objects for leading a life that is complete in each aspect. Most videos are portrayed in such a way that one begins to get consumed in the contemplation of not being fulfilled enough and new voids begin to exist in one’s personality. The fact that neither everyone has the same requirements, nor every person among the audience owns the finances to afford them, gets forgotten in the process. The constant consumption of such content takes away the control of reasoning from one’s hands, and they are left with confusion, chaos, and an inferiority complex.
A way to break out of the pattern of mindless purchasing is to ask oneself a few questions while out shopping or when about to get indulged in online purchasing. One must assess if one would need the product quite often and if one already owns an alternative for the same. This could help people avoid impulsive purchasing, and could also be beneficial for the environment.
Ashna Arif is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Anzal Khan