What You Do With Your Grocery Store Shopping Cart Reveals A Lot About You As A Person

Of course, social media is full of theories. And in May 2020 one particular Twitter user got everyone talking by sharing a unique hypothesis. Only it didn’t involve politics or any of the other usual hot button topics that usually brings the keyboard warriors out in full force. No, this one revolves around a shopping cart. And the theory refers to what you do with yours at the grocery store. Apparently, it determines whether you’re good or bad at heart.

So where did this proposition originally come from? Well, it was reportedly first posted on 4Chan – one of the internet’s most notorious message boards. It’s not known exactly who the first frequenter of the controversial forum to share the theory was. But we do know who helped it to find a wider audience on Twitter.

A man named Jared from Atlanta got everyone tweeting when he posted a message in May 2020. It read, “I can’t ******* stop thinking about the shopping cart theory.” Jared then shared the shopping cart theory that had been dominating his thoughts every waking hour.

To say that Jared’s tweet went viral would be something of an understatement. Pretty soon, the Atlanta resident’s message had amassed over 200,000 retweets. And not just that: it had received an even more astonishing tally of nearly 700,000 likes!

Jared’s seemingly innocuous post also sparked a mass debate on the social media platform. And like many Twitter discussions, the response was divisive to say the least. Of course, the humble shopping cart isn’t the only aspect of a supermarket trip that can spark a heated conversation.

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In 2017 supermarket workers flocked to a Reddit threat to name their biggest pet peeves about the general shopping public. Entering the store just before closing time was understandably one such annoyance. Others included staff being asked whether they were looking forward to the holiday season and if they enjoyed their weekend.

Being blamed for the lack of certain items was another downside of working in a supermarket mentioned in the thread. Then there was dealing with customers who have no idea how to use self-service and being treated like dirt. One particularly disgruntled contributor posted, “We’re not all uneducated slobs, plenty of us have master and bachelor degrees – and passions more varied than yours.”

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A particularly common bugbear is when a customer has second thoughts about an item they’ve already put in their cart. One commenter remarked, “I’d love to know what thought process led someone to leave their margarine in the DVD section. Like, ‘Oh, well now that I have Die Hard, I think I’ll have cereal instead of toast, so I don’t need this margarine.’”

And another issue relating to the shopping cart also cropped up. In this case, it was the act of leaving one in a particular aisle to go and do some browsing in another. Someone who claimed to be a worker posted, “People who leave their items unattended without telling anyone, and come back 20 minutes later annoyed that they’ve been put back. Of course they’ve been put back.”

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Supermarket workers are also particularly enraged by a shopping no-no that actually takes place outside the building itself. One Reddit user commented, “It’s literally the definition of lazy.” So what were they referring to? Well, it’s when people leave a shopping cart just yards away from the designated bay in the store’s car park.

And it’s this “definition of lazy” that forms the basis of the personality based theory that blew up on Twitter in 2020. “The ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of governing” was how the shopping cart hypothesis was described in the original post. But what exactly does it entail?

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Well, the theory continues, “To return the shopping cart is an easy, convenient task and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do. To return the shopping cart is objectively right. There are no situations other than dire emergencies in which a person is not able to return their cart.”

The theory recognizes that it’s not an illegal act to leave a shopping cart abandoned in a car park. Whoever came up with it therefore stipulates, “The shopping cart presents itself as the apex example of whether a person will do what is right without being forced to do it.” And then it all goes a bit like the antithesis of Liam Neeson in Taken.

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“No one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart, no one will find you or kill you for not returning the shopping cart,” the post reads. “You must return the shopping cart out of the goodness of your own heart. You must return the shopping cart because it is the right thing to do. Because it is correct.”

The individual responsible also has some strong words for those who fail to do the right thing. The theory concludes, “A person who is unable to do this is no better than an animal. An absolute savage who can only be made to do what is right by threatening them with a law and the force that stands behind it.”

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Several Twitter users took umbrage with another line included in the theory. It went, “The shopping cart is what determines whether a person is a good or bad member of society.” And they soon responded to the post to suggest that the situation wasn’t as black and white as initially made out. Disability, having to take care of young children and running late were just a few of the excuses mentioned.

Another response further highlighted how certain sections of society were being discriminated against by the rule. They said, “This assumes everyone has the ability to put back the cart. [But this] is not true for disabled people who overestimated their ability or have a sudden onset of symptoms – like an anxiety or asthma attack.”

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Then there was the social media user who claimed that those labeled an “absolute savage” were actually helping to save the economy. The individual argued, “They literally pay people to find and gather the carts. By returning, you’re actually evil because you’re reducing the necessity of their job. Thus if everyone returned the carts, these people will be out of a job or paid less.”

Of course, the theory had several supporters, too. Some refuted the claim that abandoning the carts helped with employment, as hunting them down is not exactly part of an attendant’s job description. One user remarked, “Lol the people bashing the test don’t like what it says about themselves or cannot admit to themselves that they are actually inconsiderate jerks.”

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Then there were the Twitter users who couldn’t quite believe that a theory about a supermarket shopping cart had provoked such strong reactions either way. One joked alongside a sassy gif, “Out here calling people savages over a trolley.” Another simply remarked, “I didn’t know so many people didn’t return shopping carts?” Whatever your viewpoint, it’s now likely that you’ll think twice whenever it’s time to leave the shopping cart behind.

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