There seems to be a lot in the media recently about people decluttering, trying to not consume quite so much and spending their money on experiences. James Wallman looks at this very subject in Stuffocation.
He reckons we’re burdened with too much stuff and we need to focus on experiences. We’ve been conditioned to think that if we buy more and bigger stuff we’ll be happy. Instead we’re just working more to buy this stuff and people are depressed and suffering from anxiety. He shows how people moved away from being thrifty and items these days are no longer built to last.
He puts together a clear argument about how people can save money, move to jobs they’d rather do and live in smaller homes when they’re not wasting money on buying and hoarding stuff. He feels that we’re moving toward a world where people will be less materialistic and and have more fun. He talks of the idea of minimalism but feels it won’t be taken up bu enough people to be the answer to stuffocation. People just like having things.
Experiences are the way forward. He says it doesn’t have to necessarily be big holidays but just something as seemingly simple as a walk in the park. He says that experiences are part of us and make up our identity and connect us to people. He looks at events like Secret Cinema to highlight how people will pay for super experiences and how that could lead to a new type of economy that could work for all of us. Our quality of life will improve with this drive for experiences.
Apart from buying a lot of books and records this book very much reflects my own personal viewpoint. I’ve never placed any value on material things, preferring to spend money on concerts, cinema trips and other experiences. James Wallman is very much preaching to the converted in some respects here. It borders on the ridiculous at some points (he certainly overcooks it a bit by highlighting getting rid of stuff could save your life as your house would be slower to go up in smoke in a fire) but generally there’s much to admire here. The idea of only buying a small number of quality products that serve out needs is a good one and the book certainly represents a positive experience.