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Psychologist Makes Internet Furious By Not Returning Shopping Carts

Of all the decisions we face during a trip to the grocery store: paper, plastic or reusable bags? self-checkout or human interaction? — one of them emerged as the most controversial.

Where do you leave your basket at the end of shopping? It became a sort of trolley conundrum.

Leslie Dobson, a clinical and forensic psychologist based in Los Angeles, shared her response in a video posted to TikTok and Instagram last week that generated more than 11 million views as of Monday and a litany of backlash.

“I’m not returning my basket and you can judge me all you want. I don’t put my groceries in the car, or my kids in the car, and then I don’t leave them in the car to go return the cart. So if you want to give me a dirty look, go ahead,” Dobson said, using an expletive.

The Internet went dark.

People accused her of being an “entitled mom” and called her “lazy.” Others nicknamed her “Karen” and some wondered why she didn’t take her children with her to return the cart or lock the car with them inside while she put the cart away.

“Oop, that’s embarrassing for you,” one mother of two wrote on Instagram. “They say that returning the cart is a litmus test of sorts, and girl, you failed…”

But Dobson said the video doesn’t tell the whole story. She explained in an interview with The Times that she doesn’t think women should be ashamed to return their shopping cart if they don’t feel the parking lot is safe for them or their children.

Dobson, who has children ages 3 and 7, said she knew the video would be provocative, but she didn’t expect an outpouring of anger and judgment from people online. She even received death threats, she said.

She hoped the initial post — and a follow-up video the next day — would get people talking about women prioritizing their own safety. She said her goal was to make it clear that women should not feel like they have to put themselves in a dangerous situation for themselves or their children by returning a shopping cart.

“If you feel unsafe, the important thing is to trust your intuition and protect yourself and your loved ones from a societal norm or judgment that might be thrown at you,” she said at the Times.

But people were downright apoplectic at the idea of ​​Dobson leaving his cart unrestrained.

Several commenters on his video referenced the “basket theory,” which holds that a person’s moral character and capacity for self-governance can be determined by whether they return their basket to the designated location or she leaves it elsewhere in the parking lot. plot.

Some netizens came to her defense, saying that by returning the strollers or leaving them in a designated corral, they were taking jobs away from those responsible for bringing the carts back into the store.

The public reaction to the first video was so intense that Dobson posted another message Friday to give additional context on why she made the video.

“I want to give you some statistics,” she said in the video. “Last year, 265 children were abducted from parking lots in the United States. Half of them were sexually assaulted. As a single mother returning your shopping cart, you are ideal for a predator to spy on you and catch you.

The nonprofit Kids and Car Safety reported that in the United States in 2022, at least 265 children were kidnapped in car thefts – the highest number in 10 years of data collection provided on its website. In such circumstances, the person often does not realize a child is inside the vehicle when they drive off, according to the nonprofit.

Statistics provided by the nonprofit organization do not specify whether children have been sexually assaulted in such situations. The nonprofit National Network on Rape, Abuse and Incest reported that in 2016, child protective services agencies found evidence that more than 57,000 children had been victims of abuse sexual. But the majority of sexual abuse reported to law enforcement was committed by an acquaintance of the child or a family member, according to the nonprofit.

“It may not be hundreds of thousands of women trafficked or cars stolen, but I don’t care,” Dobson told the Times. “To me, if we could have avoided it, why not? Because of a shopping cart? »

Shopping cart shaming has been an online pastime for years.

The “Cart Narcs” Instagram account is dedicated to confronting people on video in parking lots across the country to call them out for not returning their carts. Those who refuse to return their cart to the corral run the risk of a Cart Narc leaving a magnet on their vehicle that reads “I’m not returning my cart like a fool.”

Aside from times when she feels unsafe, does Dobson return her basket?

“Always,” she said, laughing. “And I help others return their carts.”

California Daily Newspapers

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