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article imageOp-Ed: Shopping is good for you? Yes, and you live longer, too

By Paul Wallis     Apr 10, 2011 in Health
A study in Taiwan and Australia has found that people who shop every day reduces mortality risk in people aged over 65. The irony of this news won’t be lost on people in this age bracket. It means being able to spend can keep you alive.
For those on a fixed or perhaps masochistic income, this is Wikipedia’s definition of shopping.
Shopping is the consumer’s double chocolate cookie. It’s also a behavioral excuse to enjoy yourself. You can scuttle out and roam the aisles like a vulture, slink around the displays like a cat, or wallow extravagantly in the dream world of a mall. The perception of reality is tuned to the visual detonations all around.
This produces longer life, according to the study. So do bills, which can make life feel a lot longer than it actually is, but the study by the Institute of Population Health Sciences and National Defence Medical Centre in Taiwan and Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre in Australia expresses the ideas more positively:
''Shopping captures several dimensions of personal well-being, health and security as well as contributing to the community's cohesiveness and economy, and may represent or actually confer increased longevity.''
Translation 1: Shopping makes a society plausible, even if nothing else does.
Translation 2: You really can live to spend money.
Translation 3: Your membership of society is confirmed by shopping, regardless of your political system or the mindlessness of your politicians.
I have a different theory. To me, shopping represents primordial hunter gathering behavior. Going out and spearing a celery or bringing down a packet of biscuits after a thrilling chase through an environment in which gigantic backsides stroll like elephants and screeching, birdlike kids forage among the snacks is a real return to Nature in the raw.
This is life as it has always been. I can envision the Tyrannosaurus family with their shopping trolleys, still waiting on line 65 million years later. The stout suburban Diplodocus bravely trying to park. The endless phone conversations- “Do we need some Stegosaurus burgers….How about Weight Watchers brand Pterodactyl wings?….” A collage of ecological bliss, in fact.
The “elderly” (Who can afford to be old?) flutter indecisively among the choices of hi-fiber and instant death foods. A pair of new socks lurks seductively in a bargain bin. That cheerful romp through trying to figure out what the doctor meant about eating anything which has ever had sugar anywhere near it. Reading ingredients in 2 point font in Thai script. Yep, you can see the paradise of geriatric shopping in many forms. A 5000 year old woman with an airline bag reaching speeds of nearly 2mm an hour in the middle of the deli displays.
The merry laughter of people on fixed incomes shopping is unforgettable. Like a singing graveyard. You can see each terrified calculation turned into a sort of orgasmic rapture. Who needs sex, when you can dream of buying a can of baked beans?
Apparently if you don’t shop frequently, you’re at risk of a poorer diet. Who’d have guessed that? Worse than frozen carrion? How?
The study has gone around the world. The Irish Examiner rephrases “shop till you drop” to “shop or you’ll drop”. Apparently men who shop had a 28% reduced mortality risk, and women 23%.
Intriguing as it is to consider the possibility of a study earnestly following shoppers around until they dropped dead, in which researchers checked the death records of participants from 1998-2008, I can see wider uses for the methodology. Retailers and other benevolent parties like social security agencies and concerned banks could post lookouts in malls, and ask people if they’re dead or not. This would remove doubt for retailers, get a smile out of social security policy writers, and allow the banks to do their little dances.
A negative answer would prove the therapeutic value of shopping, and a wheelbarrow could be provided to manage those who were dead but still shopping and upsetting the figures.
The destiny of humanity could be fulfilled in ways as yet undreamed. Millions of years ago, there was a phrase called “quality of life”. This phrase is now illegal in economics, political science and media workshops. It hearkened back to a time when people had decent cheap food worth eating, decent cheap places to live, and had some idea what they were eating.
Now we don’t have to worry about any of those silly things. Everyone can go shopping with or without money, quality of life, or a sense of purpose, and live forever. Huge herds of sample-eaters will roam the prairies, migrating to the cheese section to breed. People will evolve can opening faces, and nest around the checkouts, like they do now, but more efficiently.
Folks, you never had it so good.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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