Shoplifting used to be considered a shameful secret, an act of desperation or a cry for help, but in today's culture of oversharing on the internet, it's part of a new viral sensation.
Young, female shoplifters who take part in what they call the "lift life" are showing off their hauls on Tumblr, posting photos of their new stolen goods, and even arranging them in artful ways. Many of these women appear to be teens, and some of their stolen items add up to thousands of dollars.
Hashtags like #shoplifting or #shopliftinghaul accompany the photos, which are spreading like wildfire. Some posts not only show off the stolen items, but also post the price of every item.
Users on Twitter have even started talking about the strange community, with one woman claiming that this kind of celebration of shoplifting has been going on since the very beginning of social media — though perhaps not so brazenly:
Not only does the "lifting community" brag about their hauls, they also share tips on how to get away with lifting, like what to wear to hide stolen goods, and even tips on what the best times of year to steal from stores are.
When one Tumblr user known as babygirl-grabs took to the site to say that she had been caught by a security guard at Walmart and had subsequently lost her job, fellow lifters quickly came to her aid, offering support and even giving fashion advice on what she should wear to court.
Psychotherapist John Madrlin-Clayton chimed in about the appeal of shoplifting to these girls. "Most often when anyone shoplifts, it is to fulfill some deep-rooted psychological need, although no two people are the same," he says. "Common reasons may include the need to feel significant in a respect of getting what they want, and when they want it." Adding, "Similarly, they may seek a feeling of empowerment by outsmarting or getting away with something, an adrenaline rush in a respect of needing something more in life, something out of the ordinary to create an excitement right through to having a sense of entitlement or using shoplifting as a coping mechanism for some other much greater negative emotion or trauma."
Seems a strange way to deal with emotional trauma, but it is clear that as long as the internet exists, so too will people using it to celebrate the wrong things.
(Photo: I'll Steal Your Cat via Tumblr)