Minimalism is a scam
Look around yourself — is your surrounding space overflowing with material stuff? Do you see trinkets and useless objects all around you?
Most people, even hoarders, will answer negatively.
And still we know that in the past decades, due to economic growth, we own more material stuff than ever.
We enjoy buying and using the latest tech, fashion, entertainment, etc.
We pin home decor and DIY ideas that we might never do, but feel compelled to.
We try to constantly surround ourselves with more and more. It feels like we’re preparing for an apocalypse where the people with the most useless stuff will survive the longest.
Couple of years ago when I moved back to my apartment after 4 years abroad, I started “decluttering”. Initially I was focused on removing everything that I know I don’t want or need anymore. Things that had an emotional link to my early 20s but I knew would never need or care for anymore. Plus, I needed to make space for a second person now — a good motivator to throw or move stuff away.
Since then I’ve been decluttering our home every 3 to 6 months — not for the sake of reaching a minimalism state, but mainly to remove objects I didn’t feel ready to toss away earlier.
Last month I was on another obsessive binge decluttering and decided to use YouTube as a motivational soundtrack. My logical choice was to play minimalism videos which covered the philosophy of Mari Kondo or showed people cleaning up their spaces.
Pretty soon I realized something disturbing- minimalism is not for normal people. It’s at the opposite scale of hoarding and can easily become an obsession.
Minimalism for Americans
As most of the content online, minimalism videos are produced and targeted on solving problems of the USA.
In the US the media house is 3 times bigger than the median British home. And the US stats report a growth of 61% over the past 40 years.
That gives Americans a lot of empty space to fill — and makes me ask myself WHY do they need so much space?
You just need to fill those crazy big houses in order to feel complete.
So you keep buying and collecting useless stuff to make yourself feel comfortable at your own home. Not because you need it — because the space “demands” it.
Watching those YouTube videos made me realize something — I don’t have a cluttered home. Actually, according to US standards I’m almost a true minimalist.
Minimalism is turning into an illnesses
I then watched some videos on “10 things I stopped buying since I became a minimalist” and similar topics.
You know what hit me — most of those people looked and sounded crazy obsessed. Every decision in their lives was based on the fear of not being a good minimalist.
They just switched one obsession for the other. And made themselves feel even worse than when they were “hoarders”.
Since then I’ve watched some more similar videos for the pure entertaining value. Those videos didn’t make me reconsider my stance.
Minimalism videos made me feel better about myself and my home. They made me realize how happy I am that I’m not obsessed with having too much or too little.
Mental health is a big issue for our generation. And it seems to me that we keep pushing new reasons to make ourselves feel unhappy and unsuccessful.
Minimalism is thriving on your unhappiness. It tells you that you will only be more if you have less. But then you never have as little enough. You always need to have less and less in order to achieve greatness.
You don’t own anything that you don’t need? Cool, now decimate the number of clothes you have. Bring them down to 30 pieces in total. Then bring them down to 10 pieces. Then try having 1 multipurpose clothing item so you’re better than everyone else.
You own a big house? Declutter, downsize, sell everything. Live with just a bed, a table and a chair. Make sure you don’t own anything that’s not white — white is the cleanest, colors are equal to hoarding.
You’ve achieved top level of minimalism? Now it’s time to start living zero-waste.
Why? Because you’re never good enough because you own/use/need more than ZERO.
Minimalism is a cult
I can’t help but make the comparison between minimalists, ultra-religious people and vegans.
All 3 of them are confident that they hold the key to being better human beings. Or at least — better than you.
All 3 of them can start on good intentions and quickly turn into an obsession that can’t be reasoned with.
All 3 of them can be perfectly fine personal choices until they start becoming the driving trait in your personality.
Once you start identifying yourself (and introducing yourself to people) as vegan, minimalist, scientologist, etc. you lose your sense of self. You become part of a big group and feel more comfortable being that by being yourself.
If I suddenly start identify myself a left-handed first, this would change my whole perspective. I’ll see the world as right-handed and constantly against me and sabotaging me.
I’ll also be very annoying to people and not a great company. I’ll be terrible at networking events!
Don’t hate the minimalism. But do your own good
My take from this experience was that I’m okay.
I’m a normal person that has some hoarding tendencies (because I don’t like trowing away electronics that work great but are not useful to me anymore).
I will never become a fully obsessed minimalist and that’s fine.
Nevertheless, I have found a lot of inspiration in some of the ideas and turned them into my own.
I tried to do a capsule wardrobe which never really happened. But I removed a lot of clothes that never felt great and changed my shopping habit.
I find myself planning a home redesign project — and we try to keep the ideas more about removing elements that don’t fit us and changing them to smaller furniture.
Minimalism can be a great philosophy. But it’s turning into an obsession that could become scary and dangerous for mental health.