We’ve talked a lot about why shopping local is good for Cape Cod’s economy and for our local businesses, but what if we told you that shopping local is also really good for you, as an individual?
We get it – modern day humans are constantly seeking ontological security (fancy terminology, we know). Ontological security is a stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity in regard to the events in one’s life – a sense of order and continuity in regard to an individual’s experiences.
Order and continuity is exactly what shopping on Amazon and in box stores offers to people who are overwhelmed by modern day life. It is predictable and virtually anonymous to make purchases online and in 30,000 square foot stores.
But consider this: humans are hard wired for connection and being a part of a group or a collective – it is an intrinsic human need. Research has continually shown that when we are connected to other people, we thrive; loneliness is bad as overconsuming alcohol on a consistent basis and smoking.
In Sebastian Junger’s (a bestselling author with a Cape connection –woo hoo!) novel Tribe: on Homecoming and Belonging, he points out agriculture and then industry changed the human experience. The accumulation of personal property allowed people to make more individualistic choices about their lives, and those choices unavoidably diminished group efforts toward a common good. He writes “there are many costs to modern society, starting with its toll on the global ecosystem and working one’s way down to its toll on the human psyche, but the most dangerous loss may be to community.”
We take this analysis one step further to say that technological industrialization (which has lead to an onslaught of online shopping), is amplifying this loss on a deeper level.
Junger also writes about self-determination theory, which holds that human beings need three basic things: they need to feel competent at what they do, they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others.
Feeling a sense of belonging and connection is a basic fundamental human need – even more than the need for present and short-term ontological security. So really, competency, authenticity and connection lead to long term health and wellness, which is the very basis for any kind of order and continuity.
Local businesses are run by people with whom we all share a connection whether it is a close friend or someone who holds the door for you at the local bank. When you shop local you are purchasing goods and services from a person who is an integral part of the community on which we all depend for our own self-determination.
Whether it is conscious or subconscious a human fundamental desire is to be close to others – to have a community. Click and ship does not foster this sense of community – shopping local does.