What we Buy is an Extension of Ourselves
In the height of consumerism, where we have access to a greater choice of goods, more conveniently and faster, contradiction strikes: we are buying less
Article by Marie Dubald, founder of Jeya Narrative, courtesy of her blog
The last few years have seen a shift in the way we consume, with ubiquitous trends such as minimalism, Scandinavian hygge and Japanese Ikigai having us refocus on relationships, community and self-actualisation, instead of materialism. Consumer less, consumer better; to ‘live’ rather than ‘own’.
For a while, objects and possessions were perceived as a way to fill a void or lack of purpose and help make us feel complete. So we splurged, jeopardising time and identity along the way. Where did this gluttony of consumption take us?
Amongst all this greed, we lost ourselves and our identity.
Perhaps it all started with the internet and the rise of social media, which is about appearances, how we portray ourselves to the world and ultimately, validation. Nothing is ever left to chance, to the point where we lose our essence. Instagram and Facebook could be blamed as the biggest culprits for this image-driven society; but so should we – because we let it happen and somewhat idealise the virtual appearances (everything, as they say, does look better with a filter).
Has social media created a void also? Amidst the ability to stay connected 24/7, we, as a people, have never felt so lonely [backed by the worryingly high number of suicides in modern times], and we relentlessly seek to find more meaning in our lives.
At the same time, the recent series ‘Tidying Up’ on Netflix has us thinking: do we need so much stuff to live and be our best? As right as Marie Kondo may be, what is perhaps more worrying is our inability to realise this on our own, which is testimony to the state of our society and the consumerist brainwash we have been subject to for so long. The principles behind the Kondo philosophy would not resonate so well with so many of us if we were not mentally ready to value her advice. Too much stuff weighs us down – and the lesser possessions we own, the freer we feel and become. Getting rid of clutter and material objects is a way to getting rid of negativity, and many of us crave that detox.
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From a great focus on sustainability, to the rising expense of retail estate (i.e. things need to be stored somewhere) and the constant overload of information that play on our mental health (#FOMO), shopping and owning until you drop is no longer de rigueur.
Generation Kondo is not about minimalism, but a new inner strength that we have, re-assessing our priorities, what we want to achieve and the impact we want to make. It is a positive energy for change. Having less possessions gives us more headspace to visualise our goals and take on the world. It is time to rethink and find better ways to fulfil our unique potential. People are, after all, what makes the world go forward.
A society of plenty is certainly lucky and ought to be valued. But we owe it to ourselves to learn to shop better – for the environment, for our society, for ourselves. By focusing on quality, researching and valuing the story behind each brand, understanding the skills and craftsmanship, and looking after our belongings, we can find new meaning in each and every possession we own. Things we surround ourselves with are, ultimately, an extension of our identity.
Retail therapy can still make us feel better – but not through quantity. Retail therapy should be about items that literally make us feel good, boost our self-confidence and help us showcase our individuality to the world. Buying less but better.