When I was in elementary school, my grade went through a phase of obsession with mechanical pencils. In this area, Alpha Gel was regarded as the epitome of desirable, and people would trade all sorts of things to obtain these pencils. Until recently, I had never reflected on this peculiar craze and the mini trade economy it developed. But thinking back, I can see why, if trying to impress others with mechanical pencils was the goal, Alpha Gel would be the way to go. Alpha Gel pencils have some additional features that, though not mechanically complex, make them feel more technologically advanced. The most noticeable feature in this regard is that lead can be pushed out by shaking the pencil. In hindsight, this doesn’t seem particularly easier than pressing the top of the pencil, the mechanism for most mechanical pencils. But for us kid, the novelty of this technique was a way to stand out every time we wrote. Furthermore, these pencils have a soft yet sturdy gel grip that comes in a range of colors. In addition to its ability to decrease hand fatigue from writing, the appeal of the gel grip is another case of the desire for novelty. It adds a seemingly more advanced material to the otherwise boring realm of pencil materials. Perhaps a form of confirmation bias then arises, in which someone would try out one of these pencils in a social context that presents them as “superior”, and a relatively nice experience with it (because the added features do have some benefit) would be exaggerated as experiencing a transformational product.