Google know it with their front-page minimal web design, manufacturers of minimalist running shoes from Adidas to Vibram know it, there is a growing push-back against consumerism. Did you know that there is even growing resistance to health consumerism? Yes, minimalism and minimal design is the in thing and it is here to stay.
The last few decades have spurred an entire army of consumers. Millions of innocent people have been bombarded with adverts day after day for years in a row – on the television, the radio, magazines, newspapers and billboards. Consumerism is everywhere.
You have been conditioned to buy, buy and buy some more.
Here are some exaggerated examples:
- You already have a complete designer sofa with a matching dining table and home-cinema entertainment system? OMG, it’s so last year. Wait till you get your hands on the *NEW and IMPROVED* collection from this year!
- Already have more clothes than you can wear? Don’t fear, because you don’t yet have the new summer collection from Ralph Lauren, and that means that your wardrobe is not complete.
- Buy this *insert crappy unnecessary gadget* to make your life 1000 times easier.
- Have you heard of the new “health” bread brand XYZ yet? It’s completely fat and sugar free and will boost your immune system so you never get sick again.
The following is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Fight Club:
“Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
Another movie analogy:
For a second, can you imagine the scene from The Matrix where Neo fights off hundreds of Smith agents who are all surrounding him and attacking him? Except now YOU are Neo, and all the Smith agents are companies bombarding you with advertisements to buy their products. You must use all the kung-fu you know to fight off all the offers and don’t let them trick you into buy more things you do not really need.
It’s No Longer Cool To Consume
We live in a world where more and more people have everything they need and almost everything they want. In fact, more and more people have way too much of everything, much more than they need to survive.
Regular advertising through television, radio and magazine ads is totally not as effective as it used to be. Advertising used to be very effective because only a small percentage of companies were doing it. Today, almost every company is advertising their product on TV or in adverts of some kind.
Do you find yourself blocking out ads when you see or hear them? That’s what I do most of the time. It’s rare that a normal ad really gets my attention or peaks my curiosity.
These days when you go out, playing the perfect consumer and splurging, buying up big, society no longer thinks it’s super cool. In fact, more often than not people will look down on you for buying so much stuff while you already have more than you need.
Consumerism is out. Minimalism is in.
The Emerging Trend Of Minimalism
Have you heard about Minimalism? It is a hot new trend that is emerging. Many influential people (some of who are mentioned further down in this article) are speaking and writing about it and spreading the benefits of living a Minimalist lifestyle.
I personally believe that Minimalism is not just some fad that will fade in a few years, I believe that it is here to stay and will only grow and gain more popularity as it spreads.
What Is Minimalism
“The term “minimalist” is often applied colloquially to designate anything which is spare or stripped to its essentials.” – Wikipedia
My definition of Minimalism is having as little as possible without sacrificing major comforts. In other words, having the tools and possessions to do everything you want to do but not having unnecessary stuff that you buy and never use or don’t really need.
When I was travelling in Europe for over 2 months earlier this year, all I had with me at the time was a suitcase with clothes, toiletries,my wallet, a laptop, cell-phone, a digital camera and a video camera. Everything else was rented (the apartment, bed, kitchen, couches, washing machine etc.)
I can tell you that I still had clothes with me that I never even wore. So that leaves the question, “How much do you really need to live and do everything you want?”
Could I live this way my entire life? I’m not sure.
I believe that I can definitely live off just the suitcase and things I had with me on my Europe trip for a good 10 years, maybe more. I’m still young and am not tied to anything. However, at this moment I feel that when I will have a family sometime in the future, that I would like to have a fixed location, a house with some luxuries like a nice Tv setup, beautiful art pieces and some other things I value.
I will probably incorporate minimalistic design into my future house, something like the picture below.
Leo Babauta on Minimalism
The following are extracts taken from Leo’s posts on Minimalism:
“How does ’simple’ differ from ‘minimalist’?
How is minimalism different? It’s basically an extension of simplicity — not only do you take things from complex to simple, but you try to get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. All but the essential.
Minimalism says that what’s unnecessary is a luxury, and a waste. Why be wasteful when the unnecessary isn’t needed for happiness? When it just gets in the way of happiness, of peace? By eliminating the unnecessary, we make room for the essential, and give ourselves more breathing space.”
Read more on Minimalism from Leo Babauta here.
Everett Bogue on Minimalism
Everett Bogue is a guy from New York who started a blog on Minimalism called Far Beyond The Stars.
The following is an extract from one of his posts and explains how he began his journey of Minimalism:
“In July of 2009 I quit my job and moved from New York to Portland Oregon with everything I owned in a backpack. I had no plan and $3000 in the bank.
Everyone told me I’d starve, but I didn’t. Instead I adopted an minimalist lifestyle. I cooked all of my own food, I started working exclusively on the Internet. I learned to manage my time and empty my email inbox. It’s about the freedom that comes from leaving everything and embarking on an experience that actually means something.”
After Everett discovered the popularity of his blog and the amount of people interested in the topic of Minimalism, he decided to create an ebook called ‘The Art of Being Minimalist’. (If you are interested you can learn more about it here).
“It’s easy to look at the fact that I’m living with 50-Things and assume that I just dropped everything all at once. This isn’t true at all.
I slowly worked towards The Edge of minimalist existence.
* In 2003 I moved in a Truck.
* In 2007 I moved in a Honda Civic.
* In 2009 I moved with three bags.
* In 2010 I will move with one bag.”
Not Everyone Can Be A Minimalist
The reason why I do not agree with pure minimalism to the extent of being able to fit everything you own in just one bag is simple.
In order for you to fit everything you own in one bag, there is someone else who has to have more of something. You need a place to stay, so you rent or you stay with a friend. If everyone else owned just a bag of stuff, there would be no house for you to sleep in, no washing machine for you to use and no couch for you to sit on.
Just like the fact that not everyone can make their living online, because we need people to work in factories and produce physical goods and we need people to work on farms to provide food.
That being said, I do entirely believe that most people can live with a lot less than they currently own and I am in favor of promoting the halt of consumerism and excess and unnecessary consumption.
A hint for people in business thinking of minimal and consumer trends
If you are in business, think of those examples of Google with their minimal web design and Vibram with their minimalist running shoes, and consider how deep this trend is going even against health consumerism and ask what you can do to jump on this trend? What can you take out of your product or service and make it more attractive to certain groups of people? Alternately, if you are looking to join a company, are they aware of the current trends or are they a dinosaur. You might as well work for companies who innovate and provide for the needs of the future.
Final Thoughts On Minimalism
Leo and Everett are just two major bloggers who are spreading the word about Minimalism and the Minimalist lifestyle. Hundreds and thousands of people all around the world are picking up on it and starting to apply it to their lives.
It’s amazing how liberating it feels not to own truckloads of stuff. You feel so light and free, there is so little to think about or worry about.
I definitely enjoyed having very little when I was travelling, and it is something the you should experience too. Maybe you will love it so much that you will live your entire life that way. For me, I love cutting down on excess stuff, but stripped to the bone, naked minimalism is a bit too extreme. Everything in moderation, just like all other things in life.
How about YOU?
Do you have way too much stuff that you don’t really need? Have a sale or give it away, see how liberating it feels when you no longer have stuff you do not really care about! If you have experience saying a gentle no to consumerism and living a minimalist lifestyle, please share it with us in a comment.