Pandemic Dread Has Me Instagram-Shopping Nonstop

pok pok
3 min readDec 6, 2020

After nearly eight months of relative isolation, I have succumbed to Instagram ads which have, over the past while, become increasingly ludicrous. Or my inability to resist them has become increasingly ludicrous. It all started with an ad for a Lume Cube, a small LED light for better lighting on Zoom calls and during virtual events. It was a business expense, I decided. And it was very much needed because I was looking pallid, at best, on too many Zoom calls. When I started using the light, I felt gratified because everything looked so much better under the warm glow of a bright light. I now have two Lume Cubes and a couple ring lights. I’ve basically made myself a bootleg film set.

The nefarious algorithm quickly understood that I am a sucker for technology and all things miniature. I began to see ads for tiny projectors with alarming frequency. I already own a normal-sized projector, which I used the day it arrived and never used again. But it is a comfort, I suppose, knowing I could project something if I was so inclined. I have absolutely no need for another projector, let alone a tiny projector. But the ads depicted projectors that were all so tiny and adorable and such a technological marvel — to project a high-definition picture from the palm of my hand? That was my kind of sorcery.

So yes, I bought one. But the picture is not as crisp as it appears to be in the advertisement. There is quite a steep learning curve for a device so small. I have never been able to successfully watch anything using the tiny projector, but I have projected the interface onto the walls of my home and set up my Netflix account on it. I’ve also projected the image onto the ceiling, imagining what it would be like to watch a movie above me while lying in bed. I have fantasized, at length, about having an outdoor movie showing, stringing bright lights around my patio, erecting an artisanal movie screen (a white sheet hung between a tree and the garage), maybe serving some fancy snacks and popcorn. This is possible thanks to my tiny projector, and the possibility may well be comfort enough.

After all, there is no going to restaurants or movie theaters or bars or shows. There is no shopping in stores. There is very little social stimulation available to most of us, so virtual window-shopping has become inordinately satisfying. I now know about so many consumer goods I previously had no idea existed. There is a rowing machine that is basically the Peloton of rowing machines. There are beautiful home goods cast in concrete. There is a piece of exercise equipment, the Mirror, that is like a hologram of someone exercising with you? A personal trainer? I am not clear but it is very futuristic. There is something called the Gadget Discovery Club. It’s a subscription service, for gadgets! Party cans are resealable cans of mixed drinks. From what I can tell, they only have margaritas available right now, but there seems to be a lot of potential there. You don’t have to do the work of mixing a cocktail. It is literally a party in a can