We love things that hurt us.
It's 9:59 AM on a Thursday. You've been up since 8:00 AM to purchase the new Off-White Air Jordan 5 "Sail" on the SNKRS App.
You've made sure that your phone is at 100% and that your service is flawless while making sure your screen doesn't time out.
It's now 10:00 AM. The icon next to the hopefully soon-to-be-yours sneakers indicates they are now available for purchase.
You are now in a virtual line waiting to see if the Sneaker Gods will smile upon you. You're holding your breath as you anticipate your fate. Then an all-too familiar feeling takes over your body: "Didn't Get 'Em" appears in bold letters on your phone. This is the story of the abusive relationship between a sneakerhead...and the SNKRS App.
Since their release in 1985, Air Jordans have been the most popular athletic sneakers in history. Their revolutionary design would go on to change fashion history, just as their creator, Michael Jordan, redefined basketball history. They have evolved throughout the decades, and rare finds can carry a value of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some Jordans carry a high resale value depending on the demand. This makes the need to grab them at retail price on release day imperative. On any given Saturday morning, people across the country will line up outside major sneaker chains like Foot Locker to secure the latest pair. Sneakerheads will camp outside of stores 24 hours or more to guarantee they would get first dibs.
In fact, waiting in line for sneakers is sort of a rite of passage for the passionate sneaker collector. It takes unrelenting dedication to sacrifice your health and well-being for a pair of $175 sneakers that will re-release in a few months in a different colorway. But it's not about the shoes. It's about the joy you felt when you got the 'Bred' 11s, or the agony when you didn't get the Infrared 6s.
The SNKRS App was supposed to alleviate the chore of standing in line for the hottest new releases. Though some still keep it old school via camping out for kicks, SNKRS allows you to purchase and have them shipped directly to you at the touch of a button.
Or is it? It seems being able to buy the new Js is still a long shot for many.
Today, if you scroll down the average sneakerhead's Twitter timeline, you will see a slew of angry tweets expressing frustration with SNKRS letting them down—again. The scene is similar to millions of people tearing up their lottery tickets because their numbers weren't the winning ones.
It's a sea of confusion as customers question: If neither they nor anyone they know got the sneakers, then who did?
The sell-out status of a pair of the latest Jordans on SNKRS happens almost instantaneously. At 10:00 AM, sneakers will become available, only to be gone by 10:01 AM.
It is almost as if the "You're in Line" notification acts as a placebo telling you a spot is secured on your behalf, all the while giving you a false sense of hope. The screen creates a delusion in the minds of sneakerheads, making them believe that, this time around, they will get lucky. But in less than a minute, reality comes crashing down.
However, there is a backup option, if you're really desperate for the latest Js. StockX is the New York Stock Exchange of sneakers where customers can buy, sell, and bid on Jordans and various sneakers like LeBrons, Yeezys, even Converse Chuck Taylors. StockX will rarely sell out of inventory. However, the drawback is the potential of paying double, or even triple, the retail price. StockX is a last resort rather than a first solution.
So why continue to allow the SNKRS app to waste our time, energy, and data? Because of the rush that most humans get when playing a game involving probability. It's not so much about factoring the mathematical odds, but the ability to take a risk on a gamble that's uncertain. Even when it's a gamble on something as frivolous as a pair of basketball sneakers that you will barely walk in, let alone play a pick-up game in, the adrenaline rush rivals playing high stakes craps in Las Vegas.
Hopefully, SNKRS will find a way to make the odds more favorable for the millions of sneakerheads like me. But if said odds don't improve, we will be right back on release day, ready to have our lives ruined once again.