In my defence, I was a wee bit tipsy.
Bear that in mind when you feel that understandable urge to judge my silliness too harshly.
I was a glass of wine down – two probably, when you take into account the over-generous home-pour – when I came across the social media advert.
It was on Facebook, badly-written and full of wild promises.
The advert was for an American psychic medium who said – in that optimistic, confident language that the Yanks love – that she has the supernatural ability to draw an accurate picture of your true soulmate.
Of course, she wasn’t motivated by altruism. This is a business, after all, so she would only offer the service to those discerning buyers (hi!) who were prepared to part with cold, hard cash.
The ad had a video of a “couple”’ who had met after the psychic had drawn one of the pair.
I don’t know how they got from a drawing to a real-life meeting to eternal love. But the social media advert said that’s what happened. And Facebook is famous for being a true and reliable source of information.
And I was going to scroll past it, honestly, I was.
But something tugged at me.
It wasn’t a belief that this woman was genuine. I don’t actually believe in psychics.
And it wasn’t a desire to discover my soulmate, because I already know that person is Mad Men actor Jon Hamm.
They say "it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey …"
John Slattery and John Hamm in Mad Men pic.twitter.com/bar9JBs9gy
— Ettinger London (@EttingerLondon) April 10, 2022
I just haven’t got round to meeting him in person yet.
Whatever it was, I handed over my money and waited to see what she came up with.
It’s looking good for mistletoe season
When the drawing arrived in my inbox a few days later, I was pleasantly surprised.
“My soulmate” does look like somebody I would date.
He is dark-haired, bearded and slightly shifty looking, as per my usual policy.
Accompanying the sketch, the psychic offered further details on the love of my life.
The statements about him were so vague as to be rendered meaningless. But I appreciated her taking the time.
“Your soulmate will surprise you with a rose when you least expect it and gently kiss your hand’’ she said.
Hopefully not during the Derry Girls finale though, please.
She also described him as “realistic’’ with a “casual personality’’ – which, given I’d just spent £30 on a drawing instead of the electricity meter, is probably a good thing. I could use a steady influence.
She said the colours of my aura show that I will meet this fella in six to nine, months which brings us to Christmas time, prime dating season.
I’ll stick the picture up in my window and wait for him to arrive.
In the meantime, I should probably try to rein in the social media advert impulse purchases.
Before the social media advert there was the home shopping channel
This might be a particularly wasteful example, but admit it – we’ve all done it.
A few short decades ago, online shopping wasn’t a thing.
If you wanted to splurge on an unnecessary gadget or a beauty product that promised youth in a bottle, you’d have to go to a bricks and mortar shop, or spend hours under the hypnotic influence of the home shopping channels.
Love a TSV! My lovely @qvcuk friends on air now, getting the garden ready for summer! I presented on QVC for 10 years & had a ball. A brilliant place to work with such a friendly positive energy. #shopping #JubileeStreetParty 🧡🎉 @mr_plantgeek 🪴🪴🪴@miceal 🧡 pic.twitter.com/CmFGttqdGw
— Linda Magistris (@lindamagTV) May 13, 2022
In the early noughties my dad and I launched a full-scale charm offensive on my mum to persuade her to let us buy an abdominal exercise contraption that we’d seen on one of the shopping channels.
We knew that all that stood between us and rock hard abs was £89.99 + delivery.
No ab muscles were ever discovered.
But it’s so much easier to be parted with your cash in this era of the social media advert.
Our phones contain vast marketplaces that offer us everything we want and everything we didn’t know we needed.
Have you heard of the TikTok leggings? They are viral sensation among the young team and promise the wearer a Kardashian-standard derriere.
Then there are the various faux freckle pens that offer a beautiful smattering of sun-kissed freckles or a Jackson Pollock disaster, depending on the skill of the user.
Fool-proof egg poachers, magic wrinkle erasers, acid cream that gives you feet like a newborn baby: the internet tells us we need them ALL.
Cost of living crisis? We’ve got a product for that
According to the data nerds, by 2024, shoppers in the UK will spend more than £105 billion through their phones – double what was spent in 2019.
It looks like the heady dopamine rush of the impulse buy is here to stay.
But as the cost of living crisis sinks its teeth into the economy and household budgets, we may see the social media advert evolve to match demand.
Perhaps cheap heaters and freezer bags for batch cooking will eventually replace the plethora of potions and lotions promising silky eyebrow hair.
And not a moment too soon.
In fact, when my soulmate arrives in December I might ask him to whip up an income and expenditure spreadsheet for me to keep us on the spending straight and narrow.