There was a time when browsing meant walking past a whole bunch of store fronts in a shopping mall. Or going into a brick and mortar and walking through the various departments and aisles trying to see if anything was interesting and cheap enough to warrant purchase. A sales attendant would approach and more often politely ask, “may I help you?” And you’d more often than not reply, “no thank you- just browsing”. And then the commission-earning sales person would quickly turn away defeated or dejected or maybe even ticked off that you somehow just wasted their precious time.
Browsing, of course, today takes on an entirely different meaning. You don’t have to put on a coat, or rubbers (don’t go there) or scarf or hat in lousy weather. Or give up watching a precious ball game. You sit at your computer and click on the Internet Connection icon and presto- you scan through just about any website in the world. I’ve noticed that there are sites that now detect that you are visiting and within seconds pounce with a pop-up message encouraging you to strike up a conversation with their sales or support staff. I click on the little X at the right top and the pop-up goes away.
Of course, there are times when I don’t just want to browse at a store. I want and expect a salesperson to help me spend money. In these instances, I’ve already mentally made up my mind to buy the item from that place on that day. It is up to the salesperson to be the one to ruin the completion of the sale- not me.
Just a thought- maybe the word itself, “browse”, has something to do with eye brows. You look in wonder at something and raise your eyebrows as a sign of awe or amazement and affinity. As a kid, I’d browse through the Monroe catalog hoping to find that one toy or game that was cheap enough for my parent to buy me. Skipping through the clothing, appliances, hardware and nascent electronics sections, I’d settle down into the toys area carefully scanning each page fully to appreciate the world of enjoyment for the rich scion. Next to the list price printed in bold face was the catalog house price written in code. We quickly mastered the code and wondered how we could have helped in the espionage war against the Japs twenty years earlier.
Parents: “No, you cannot have a luxury edition of Monopoly. You barely play the one you have now.”
Parents: “No, you cannot have that. It costs too much money.”
Me: “But, I’ll help pay for it.”
Parents: “We’ll see.”
When I watch a movie on Youtube.com, I also keep open a browser tab to IMDB.com to check out info on the movie itself or cast members. There is no one to intrude and ask me to take out my wallet and put money through the little opening under the glass window of the box office. If I feel in the mood for popcorn, I pause the video clip viewer, go to the kitchen, take out a flat bag of popcorn seeds and microwave it. When fully popped and the warning bell irritates with five beeps, I take the bag back to the chair positioned opposite the computer screen and un-pause the clip. A hassle-free night in.
If, by the third ten minute segment of the movie I’ve lost interest enough to follow it through to the end, I simply type something else into the search box that holds my fancy.
With these new-fangled I-Pad type computer tablets that you can hold in one hand, it won’t be long before we can browse and stay in bed. Ah, progress!