I know I’m going to get a boat-load of shit on my front doorstep for this, but this has been long overdue.
I think I’m done with “haul” culture.
After deciding to make better use of my time, I started thinking hard about those things I use as a distraction. Sure, there are lots of things I do that aren’t the best use of my time (Scrabble on the iPad, looking up “cookie in a mug” recipes, stalking the Duchess of Cambridge’s style choices), but the #1 thing I found that permeated a lot of my social media was shopping “hauls.”
Hauls are something of a recent phenomenon in the online world – a place for people to show off their recent purchases, whether it’s to humble-brag, give honest reviews, or subversively advertise sponsored products. It’s pretty much its own sub-genre on YouTube, and there are many, many blogs dedicated solely to hauls. This isn’t something that exists only in the fashion world, either – I’ve seen haul videos/posts about housewares, cleaning supplies, organization, food, teaching supplies, and many other categories. While at first, they were mostly people showing us things they purchased with their own money, many of the “hauls” I’ve seen recently are at least partly (and sometimes entirely) paid for by a sponsor. This means that we’re seeing people sharing their “purchases” that are not at all something he/she actually paid for. In fact, there are people on YouTube who are paid a significant amount of money to film haul videos based on products they were sent by a company (or given store credit to buy on their own).
So why am I now suddenly done with hauls?
Well, it’s for a couple reasons.
First, I find that haul videos and blogs have become increasingly similar among YouTubers and bloggers who discuss similar topics. It’s pretty obvious at this point that many are being paid by the same companies to do the same things. Honestly, I don’t have time to watch 10 videos and read 8 blogs posts about what’s new at Lush – and I know it’s no coincidence that all 18 of those people put out Lush haul videos or blog posts within 2 days of each other. I totally understand that is partly how people make money online, but the sheer amount of it going on is too much. If I want to watch an advertisement for Lush, I’d rather it come from them, not someone trying to convince me they “just popped in to see what Lush was up to.”
(*Note: I’m not dissing Lush for any particular reason – it’s just the most recent example of carpet-bomb advertising I’ve seen lately. I’ve been to Lush only once in my life, loved it, and can’t wait to go back – and no, they’re definitely not paying me to say that.)
Secondly, I can’t participate in “haul culture” anymore because I simply can’t afford it, both financially and psychologically. If you pay close attention to the amount of money spent on hauls, it’s insane. Part of me feels bad for the people who do this and clearly can’t afford it – and the other part of me is insanely jealous of the people who can. Like many people, I easily get caught up in the comparison game when it comes to social media – and this is a big step in me saying no. I can’t continue to watch videos where people show off their perfect closets, gigantic makeup collections, new homes, and exotic vacations without feeling bad about myself, so I’m done.
This is not to say I’m done with reading blogs or watching YouTube videos completely. It just means I’m going to be more mindful of what I watch and read from now on. I’ve already un-subscribed from several YouTube accounts, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Instagram accounts that were mostly haul-based marketing – and so far, I haven’t missed any of it. I still subscribe to a few blogs and YouTube accounts that do hauls, though they do far fewer of them, and are more open about what products they purchased themselves and what was given to them. It’s not easy to do, but so far it has been worth it.
This also means that I’m done participating in haul posting myself. I’ll still do product reviews for specific things I really like (or don’t), but I’m not going to spend any more time sharing my shopping trips with readers. I don’t think it would be right for me to stop consuming haul culture, and still participating in it. I also found that doing haul posts were insanely easy (which I’m guessing is why so many people do them), and I’d like to challenge myself more. I want to write about things people care about, and I don’t think many of you really care about what I bought during my last trip to Target…and I wouldn’t want you to.
If you are like me, and feel burnt out or tired of keeping up with unrealistic standards, join me in my #nomorehauls challenge! Let’s make an effort to love who we are, be thankful for what we have, and do a little less damage to our bank accounts!
(*Another Note: If you’re not like me, and are fine with haul videos and posts, that’s okay too! Just make sure you’re not pressured to buy things you don’t need/want, keep an eye on your spending, and be aware of when you’re being marketed to. You can totally enjoy hauls responsibly!)