A new theory is sweeping the internet. Appearing online in the form of a viral image, the so-called “shopping cart theory” is a way of grouping people into two separate categories. The people who return their shopping cart to the proper place after shopping and the people who simply leave it in the middle of the parking lot. Because you’re either a person who does put the shopping cart away or a person who does not, the so-called “shopping car theory” is a great way to categorize people and to spark discussion among strangers on the internet.

When the theory appeared on Reddit not long ago, it included a now-viral image that proposed the question: “There is no dire emergency. Do you accept your duty to return the cart even though you gain nothing?”

As you can imagine, this question has created a long and interesting discussion. There seem to be many benefits to both sides of the puzzle. But first, this.

“The shopping cart is the ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing. 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.”

The post continues, “There are no situations other than dire emergencies in which a person is not able to return their cart. Simultaneously, it is not illegal to abandon your shopping cart. Therefore, the shopping cart presents itself as the apex example of whether a person will do what is right without being forced to do it. No one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart; no one will fine you or kill you for not returning the shopping cart. You gain nothing by returning the shopping cart.

“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.”

Although this all seems logical, we all know that not everyone returns the shopping cart after they’re done with it. There are plenty of “bad” people who go against this shared responsibility and flaunt their independence from the system by leaving the cart in the way of others.

“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 the law and the force that stands behind it.”

The viral post concludes, “The shopping cart is what determines whether a person is a good or bad member of society.”

Despite the logic that seems to stand behind this argument, many people found it utterly offensive. It’s no doubt that they’re among the group of so-called “savages” who do not have the decency to return the cart after using it.

One person wrote, “most (arguments against returning the cart) were about how not returning the cart helps the cart-handler at the store keep their job. Sure, I bet they’re stoked about having to put in the extra effort while doing their minimum wage job, makes perfect sense.”

Do you return the shopping cart or abandon it?

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