The article by New York Times columnist, Ann Patchett, titled “My Year of No
Shopping,” argues against overconsumption of items that are not necessities. Patchett was inspired by her friend who spent a year without purchasing new clothes, shoes, and perfumes. She states that her friend claimed that it kept her from spending too much on stuff that one can easily live without. Patchett explains that she was interested in the idea and decided to experiment with herself. Initially, she hesitated what kind of items she should allow herself to purchase during this year. The author states that she loves books, and she could not restrict herself from purchasing them. However, during the experiment, she realized that many items that she used to purchase without thinking did not matter to her. Patchett argues that this experiment helped her to think more about what other people needed; people who think less of material things might use the spare money to help others. Although she understands that shopping benefits economic growth, she thinks that New Year’s resolution to use self-restriction in purchasing helps to not associate wishes from needs. Although the article is ineffective because of her inconsistent reasoning, overall it is effective because of her informal tone and her use of imagery.
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However, the article is ineffective because the author doesn’t present a clear connection between her arguments and statements. According to the QDT Editor (2015), the lack of logical reasoning may discourage the audience from believing the writer’s words. Within the article, some of the author’s thoughts seem disconnected from each other. For example, the author talks about her personal experiences and her life without shopping, giving many examples from the past year. Then, Patchett expands her idea and mentions her religious past. Her arguments are mostly based on her attachment to physical things and the loss of meaning of shopping as a leisure activity. Then, the author starts talking about financial benefits and her relationship with saving money. While this part of the experiment might have been interesting for the author to explore, she does not mention it in any other part of the article.
Patchett offers many examples from her life to show that her arguments are not based on assumptions but on real situations for her audience to understand easily. For example, her desire to buy new clothes and cosmetics is not general – she states that she wants a Fitbit or a new lip balm but then finds that purchasing them is unnecessary for different reasons. Moreover, the author continuously describes situations that have happened to her before the experiment to make a clear comparison between her feelings before and after she decided to undergo this process. Therefore, readers can understand her motivations between purchases and see why the author states that she does or does not need them. Patchett’s description of Lent also offers a great example of what people can give up, providing another contrast between her desires and needs. This helps to influence the audience and to make the story believable, as readers can empathize with her experience.
Patchett makes the story very personal by using an informal tone and adding details from her childhood. The author often admits that she does not fully understand what she is doing. Furthermore, she realizes that her plan was flawed and could be improved: “I could have used the library… but I didn’t” (Patchett, 2017, para. 9). These types of information provided by the author make her an engaging narrator who states her opinion and gives a realistic description of the situation. She does not try to sound overly confident or bold, sharing her insecurities with the audience instead. The article encourages others to experiment but presents one person’s case. The audience may be more open to treating this article as helpful and engaging because the author approaches them as friends who are simply listening to a story.
While the informal tone is certainly a significant advantage for the author in terms of persuasion success, her inconsistent reasoning is a definitive weakness. In particular, approaching this piece of writing from the analytical perspective, it is important to pinpoint what kind of purpose it was meant to have. Differently put, thinking critically about the article, one has to wonder what the author wanted to achieve with the help of her text. The potential purposes of the article under discussion include informing and educating the audience, calling to action, sharing an experience, and entertaining. Judging from how detailed the story about her personal experience was, it is possible to conclude that the author mainly wanted to communicate her journey of no shopping to her readers. Also, reporting all the slightest complications she faced throughout this practice, Patchett is educating her audience about what may happen if they decide to follow her footsteps and give up shopping. However, at some point, the author also begins to describe the benefits of her newly embraced lifestyle. To be more precise, she notes how the avoidance of shopping saved her much time and money, and how good she felt about taking control of this habit.
Overall, it can be said that the article had multiple purposes. Moreover, in her piece, the author explores an extremely relevant topic of addressing a shopping addiction. The latter obsessive habit is heavily promoted by contemporary social media with all the haul videos and numerous cheap retail websites whose popularity is growing by the day. Patchett embraces the ideas of minimalism – a current trend that has been gaining many new followers lately. The author uses light and playful tone and matter-of-factly reports her findings and experiences thus engaging the audience. The language she applies is also quite simple and easy to comprehend for all types of readers. These techniques are intended to help increase the reach of this article and allow more readers to identify with the author and her views.