From the tomes of the addicted consumerist comes another article decrying the woes of minimalism. This type of article pops up every once in a while. Typically they ooze fear on the part of the author – fear that their rampant consumerism, which surrounds them with stuff and implies status, might not be the path to happiness they were expecting.
Today’s example of this is from the New York Times: The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’
My minimalist readers and friends, do any of you feel oppressed by minimalism? I feel more free now, as a minimalist, than at any point in my past. It’s funny how most people that shout the woes of minimalism have never tried it. It reminds me of a young child crying that they hate pie, while refusing to taste it. (Sounds crazy, but I’ve seen it. Feel free to substitute pie for any other food of your choosing.) It’s awful until you try it.
I never spoke out publicly against minimalism, but in my younger days I had more than one conversation with my wife, wondering aloud why anyone would want to downsize their house. The reason many of the people now embracing minimalism are middle and upper income families, is that they’ve had time and ability experience the consumerist way, and found it lacking (myself included).
Often, those speaking out against minimalism tell us that minimalism only works for the privileged. Those that have extra money socked away. This quote from the article, originally quoted from another similar article in The Atlantic describes the feeling:
The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet.
This is simply untrue. One of my favorite minimalist bloggers, Annie Brewer, lives as a minimalist on $500 per month. If anything, those without access to the things mentioned above would be served most by minimalism. By focusing on the essentials, you can live on less income, and have time for things more important that big houses, fancy cars, and expensive TVs.
Most middle to upper income minimalists do have some luxuries. Minimalism isn’t always about removing these things. It also about making choices as to which items serve you as opposed to those that distract you from a more fulfilling life.
When I read articles like this, it reminds me of how I thought when I was wrapped up in money and status. It takes time to extract yourself from that, and even now I sometimes fall back to old ways of thinking.
On the plus side, I found a couple of good links in the article. One is to an article by James Altucher: How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy. This is a great article and is very open and honest.
The other is a subreddit on minimalism: https://www.reddit.com/r/minimalism/. I didn’t know this existed and plan to add this to my bag of tricks as I look for interesting articles and topics to discuss here on Minimal You.
From the minimalism subreddit, I found this article that shares some thoughts on the things I discussed in this blog posts. Media perpetuating the myths of minimalism. It’s worth a read if you want to see a perspective similar to my thoughts in today’s post.
Photo credit (minimalism doesn’t have to be one pea, it can be a plate full of something that fulfills you.)