A decade ago purchasing a book involved driving to a bookstore, browsing for the book, placing an order if necessary, making a payment with either cash or a card and driving back. Getting cash meant finding an ATM, withdrawing money and getting back change after payment – a tactile act that gave a tangible value to the book being purchased. Card payments in those days without instant notifications from bank apps lead to mysterious declines for either hitting the spending ceiling or having no funds, a problem cash from the ATM solved in an instant.
Making a bigger purchase often involved more deliberation over financing and transportation which created additional hurdles to the whole act of spending. This left enough leeway to abandon a purchasing idea and resume it at a point of one's choosing. Cash was both a consumption gateway and inhibitor, the safety check against spending money was money itself.
Now, I go on Amazon and make a single click purchase and the book is in my mail the next day. The price on Amazon feel like points in a video game and my bank app deducts my purchase from my balance in a whirr of numbers that make it look like a slot machine. The sensory translation of the purchase into pings and notifications in different apps adds to the satisfaction. The sleight of hand that Amazon pulls is making the value of all things homogeneous, the act of buying a book is no different from that of buying a refrigerator.
Added to this is the rise of modern banking apps that talk about a simplified, seamless transaction experience. The experience part of spending comes with all kinds of enticing UI/UX interfaces that appear to make a transaction cool. The seamlessness of these apps lies in removing the weight of money making the price in an online transaction like a second thought, a formality to look over. This fundamental shift on how we shop and the mode of spending money makes it easier for us to be stripped off of our funds at any moment through the day. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he did not exist and like that my wallet goes empty.