How do you stop feeling like you need to buy everything you like?
Remedies for "compulsive coppers," and the debut of N.O. C.A.P. Mindset
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— Jonah & Erin
Buying fire s**t — we do too much of it. For me (Jonah) and Erin, this is partly a normal expression of our interest in clothes, and it’s an occupational hazard of having great taste and writing the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon.” But buying too much fire s**t is also a function of innate human yearning as exacerbated and deformed under modernity, baby — we cop compulsively, under the sway of pernicious and ubiquitous consumer-culture forces that exert their deranging influence on all of us.
The result is a state of “constant zombie copping”: Too much libidinal payoff, however fleeting, has been packed into the act of buying itself, and salient questions are rendered ancillary, if not ignored outright — not just, “Do I really need this?” but “Do I even really want to own this and, if so, could I relate to that acquisitive urge in a healthier, more intelligent, and more in-control way?”
During a recent open call for Personal Spyplane questions on IG we got a weighty query on the theme of compulsive copping:
“how do you stop feeling like you need to buy all the clothes you like?” — @gwooten15
This question neatly articulates the pathology of the compulsive copper: You see a piece of clothing that “checks all the boxes” of what you like, bells of longing go off in yr head, and you feel you must buy the thing to quiet the clang.
The first remedy for this compulsion is to introduce productive kinds of friction into the exchange — that is, try to add more boxes that need to be checked for the bells to clang / before you smash the coppington.
One imperfect yet productive way I’ve been personally trying to do this is to only buy things that stoke desire in person, establishing a higher bar of dopeness (and lower probability of regret) than is involved with e-commerce. This is also known as the C.I.R.L.O.C. (Cop I.R.L. Only Challenge) Mindset and it has many other benefits.
Another way is to develop better habits during moments of idleness, for instance: I should stop scrolling Grailed and Yahoo Japan Auctions when I’m bored.
And yet another way is to cross-reference any new appealing jawn against the many appealing ones I already own and love, to determine whether this garment “does something” that none of those garments do.
This last method grounds things in utility (e.g. “I already have black roomy lightweight pants that feel good in warm weather and go with everything, another pair would be redundant”). More interestingly, it can help to activate a powerful COUNTER-URGE, namely your desire to rock the fly s**t you already own, which will look better / integrate more swaggily into yr whole gestalt with wear. Next time you are tempted to cop, do a little inventory of your current jawn holdings, a.k.a. your B.I.G. B.U.C.S. library — I bet you’ll re-discover pieces you forgot you owned and are eager to put on.
It’s simple zero-sum math that owning more jawns = having fewer opportunities to flex on these hoes (in the enlightened gender-neutral sense) in each of them. In that light, you realize that buying a new garment is vexingly at cross purposes with enjoying a garment you already possess and love but haven’t worn enough. This may sound simple and obvious to many of you, but take it from me: To the Pathological Jawn Fiend, it’s a truth that takes effort to internalize.
This method is also especially potent because it’s not about deprivation. It’s about replacing one evanescent dopamine hit with more sustained pleasure, by transitioning from “acquisition mode” to “enjoyment mode”:
Blackbird Spyplane is a 100% reader-supported delight. Paying for great things feels amazing. Come rock with us to the fullest — Jonah & Erin
The second remedy is to try to distill — rather than block out — the sickening feeling that occurs when you O.D. on copping and realize that, as a way to “make yourself feel better” or “fill the void within,” copping mad s**t actually sucks. Turn this feeling into its own antidote. What I am describing here is an accelerationist, heighten-the-contradictions approach, whereby you think about how gross it feels to compulsively buy a ton of s**t. Hold that nauseated feeling queasily in your stomach, stew in its foul properties, and the next time you feel the compulsion to cop coming on, “inject” a big nasty dose of that self-disgust so you can inoculate yrself / keep your wits about you.
If a garment’s allure is strong enough to scythe through the thick sense-memory of disgust? Maybe there’s something to it. (There’s probably a dieting corollary to this kind of impulse-control technique, like where you concentrate on how nasty you’ll feel after eating the whole family-size s**t of potato chips yourself instead of privileging the short-term dopamine pop of how good they will taste when you first tear in.)
The third & final remedy on the docket today is one we’ll call the Non-Obsessive Chill Artgoer’s Perspective (“N.O. C.A.P.”) Mindset. What I’m thinking of here is how, when I go to a gallery or museum, etc., to see world-class artwork, the prices involved in actually owning that art are so astronomical that no desire is even capable of being activated inside me. (The ultra-rich obviously enter galleries and museums in an acquisitive mode, but that doesn’t disprove the fundamental dynamic at play, it just means there are levels to this s**t.)
Would it be sick to own a massive Vik Muniz photograph where he “re-drew” Saturn eating one of his sons using junkyard refuse on the floor of a warehouse? Yes it would be very sick, but it’s so beyond the realm of possibility that I don’t experience a fraction of a second of actually desiring ownership of the picture, much less considering “compulsively copping” it…
This reveals a not-immediately-intuitive relationship between desire and attainability: Going to a museum as a normal person implies a desire-free relationship to objectively desirable things. I don’t feel bad that I can’t afford the Muniz photo and I don’t itch to bring it home, I just file it among the many beautiful things (sunsets, redwood forests, the vintage Ferrari that Daft Punk drive in Electroma) that I am content to admire and appreciate without feeling a “need” to own.
The N.O. C.A.P. trick, deployed in the clothes-rocking context, is to apply this “appreciate it from afar” framework to objectively desirable clothes even when there is no affordability hurdle. Find alternative ways, in other words, to “possess” the thing: Take a photo, talk about why the garment is cool with a likeminded SpyFriend, curate a “fire clothes biennial” of the mind — and reap the many benefits of chilling the f**k out, chief!!
BTW — Last Friday we launched a Cla$$ified-Subscriber-only resource for Cool City Guides and other types of Travel Recon. SpyFriends were sharing so much great global-destination intel in the SpyTalk Chat Room, we decided to spin it off and give it its own place:
Blackbird Spyplane takes money from NOBODY besides our “beautiful & blessed” readers, so we keep some of our best s**t behind the paywall — join our Cla$$ified Recon tier today
The Cla$$ified SpyTalk chat room is here, full of very cool people with very cool recommendations.
The Master Jawn Index, featuring earth’s best Spyplane-approved things, is here.
The Blackbird Spymall, full of rare gems, is here.
“It’s simple zero-sum math that owning more jawns = having fewer opportunities to flex on these hoes (in the enlightened gender-neutral sense) in each of them. “ this is such a sick line. Loved this one, appreciate all the knowledge you bless us with.
I like to tie purchases to specific, anticipated, (few and far between) good occasions. That way if I am acquiring something new I have a memory link for its arrival in my wardrobe. It’s not that I need something new for every occasion but those fetes deemed worthy of a beautiful new vestment always have a little more sparkle in my memory, as do their accompanying procurements in my wardrobe and my copping becomes not about the acquisition or their effect on others or what they say about me but instead about the shared experience when I wore it. Because you’re right, unless you’re careful the things you own can end up owning you — even that desire to own can. Great read, BBSP