Life

The Dumbest Shit We Bought Online in 2020

All the items we assumed would automatically improve our lives while locked inside, here in one stupid article.
December 18, 2020, 9:30am
Online Shopping
Image / VICE

Once, when I was at university, I got a call from the bank asking me to verify a number of purchases I had made on my card, because they believed them to be fraudulent. I listened as the woman on the other end listed the items down the phone, and then confirmed that yes, it was indeed me who had ordered the leopard print slanket at 10PM on a Saturday night.

As you may have guessed from the fact I once bought a blanket ft. sleeves because I saw people tweet about them being funny, I am a very suggestible person. During a year where there was not a huge amount to do but sit in front of a screen and have purchasable items suggested to me, even when I was not intending to purchase anything, there were inevitably a few occasions when I clicked “add to trolley” on something utterly idiotic, hopeful that it held the key to improving life in lockdown.

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Thankfully, some of my colleagues had similar experiences, so I made them tell me about it – and now? Our bad decisions? Are content! 

COW PRINT JEANS

Cow print jeans VICE

I look like Jessie from Toy Story 2 / Image by VICE

YES I bought jeans during a pandemic otherwise largely defined by me cloaking my body in soft fabrics designed to make me feel like I do not have a body at all YES we exist YES we are valid.

With all apologies to leopard print and, by extension, Kat Slater, I love and respect cow print as the best animal print – it is chicly monochromatic, cows have a lifestyle I admire (vegan diet; just stand there) – and, of course, as I spent longer and longer indoors with limited human contact and too much exposure to Instagram, I became convinced that a pair of cow print trousers were the thing that would make everything in my life better.

In fairness, I was totally validated in this notion when, on my way home from seeing a friend one evening (in a Tier-compliant and socially distanced manner, thank you), I was wearing these jeans and a drunk American man in the street said to me: “You look like…….. Texas.” 

– Lauren O’Neill

TEN TO 15 TECH DECKS

Tech deck VICE

Image by VICE

Like most people I spent the spring of 2020 intensely bored – that sort of deranged, itchy boredom that you most associate with being 11 years old on a Sunday afternoon. I tried everything to keep it at bay: dance mat, tequila, back-to-back episodes of Real Housewives. One of my dumber decisions was to purchase around ten to 15 Tech Decks, which were then hand-painted with nail varnish (see pic).

At first, these Tech Decks were a real novelty. My flatmates and I would clear up after dinner and fashion miniature skateparks out of books and bowls. That lasted for about a week. Eventually, the tap, tap tapping of the plastic wheels started to get on everyone's nerves. I look at them on my shelf now and feel nothing. I’m 28 years old. What am I supposed to do with all these hand-painted Tech Decks?

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– Daisy Jones

LAVA LAMP

LAVA LAMP VICE

Image by VICE

Since lockdown began, I had been seriously considering buying a lava lamp.

At first, it was just a niggling little thought that hit me in the shower and petered out by the time I got out, like “going for a run” or “reorganising my drawers”. So I convinced myself that lava lamps are kind of dead anyway and would simply be a waste of money. But then they started to appear in my dreams and I imagined my room being flooded with warm neon light, like a TikTok teen, and I was sold on the idea. Eight months and £15 later, she’s here and she’s beautiful.

I’m obsessed in a way that you can only be with something you’ve had for less than a week. I walk into my bedroom in the middle of the working day just to stare at the waxy little pink and orange blobs bouncing off each other with the kind of energy I can only dream of having. Truthfully, by the time next week comes around, I will have forgotten I even own one.

– Nana Baah

HETTY HOOVER

Hetty Hoover VICE

Simply… Hetty / Image by VICE

She's big, she's pink, she's flirty – that's right, my Big Purchase of 2020 was a Hetty Hoover. In many ways, this is the opposite of a dumb purchase because it's so practical; the one we had before came with the flat and was so shit you could've done a better job licking the carpet with your tongue.

I have a massive dust allergy, which is both awesome and cool, so being trapped in a London flat for months was quite literally doing my head in. Enter: Hetty. A dream, an angel with "versatility", "huge capacity" and a high femme energy; the Cardi B of vacuums. Got her from Argos for like £99 or something? We were looking for a Henry, but Hetty was cheaper despite being the exact same product but with eyelashes (the gender pay gap rages on!).

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Equally, though, it is a dumb purchase because I could've just got, like, a normal hoover. Naturally, I wanted one with a face. I also bought a complete Juicy tracksuit, which cost almost twice as much and I've almost worn the arse out of already, but there's nothing dumb about that.

– Emma Garland

THEREMINI

Most people acquired a new hobby this year, but few chose one as stupid as mine. I listen to theremin music a lot – that warbling old timey noise that sounds like it's made by a string instrument that doesn't have any strings – while I write or potter around doing chores. To play the theremin or theremini, you use the fingers on one hand to slide incrementally through air as if you’re stroking it, while moving the other hand dramatically to articulate the sound.

Unsurprisingly, it’s very hard to play if you’re not already musically equipped. I can play some basic guitar, and had singing lessons as a teenager, but I struggle with sheet music. After this absurd impulse purchase, I tapped about online and read numerous people explain that you shouldn’t buy this instrument unless you’re proficient at playing other instruments.

Yet here we are: six months on. This online purchase comes in at a close second behind three years of Japanese language lessons as the most painfully expensive and pointless hobby of my adult life thus far. 

– Hannah Ewens