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Day 12/02/2014

Stuffocation – Moving From Material Goods To Experiences & Why That’s Not Enough …*

“Stuffocation is the idea that instead of thinking of ‘more’ the way we used to–the way people used to think of more as a good thing–we now think more means: more to store, more to think about, more hassle. Instead of being a good thing, more is worse, it’s a pain. Overwhelmed and suffocating from stuff, I think we’re feeling stuffocation.” – James Wallman

Not too long ago, I shared here on rethinked *  my deep desire to shed some of my belongings and to travel more lightly through life. Four trips to the donation center later and I’m still feeling stuck, still drowning in far too many things. I was hoping to get some helpful insights from this video of James Wallman‘s talk at the RSA about his new book — Stuffocation: How We’ve Had Enough Of Stuff And Why You Need Experiences More Than Ever. Wallman, who is a British journalist and trend forecaster, has identified a significant cultural shift away from materialism. Citing Ron Inglehart’s research on our changing attitudes towards materialism and Chris Goodall’s claim that we’ve passed ‘peak stuff,’ Wallman argues that as our definition of ‘more’ has evolved, we are culturally shifting away from materialism and towards what he calls “Experimentalism.”

“Instead of looking for happiness, for status and for meaning in material goods, these experimentalists are finding happiness, status and meaning in experiences instead. Experimentalism, I believe can solve a problem like stuffocation. More importantly, I think Experimentalism will solve stuffocation because it’s better. It’s better than materialism at making us happy, it’s better at giving us status, and it’s better at giving our lives meaning.” 

Personally, I find that Wallman’s argument falls short, we’re switching over from materialism to experimentalism but we are still very much operating within a consumption paradigm. Where is the big shift–the fundamental rethinking? We are now consuming experiences rather than material goods but consuming none the less. In my own experience of ‘stuffocation,’ I think a large part of my malaise comes from the plague of overconsumption that permeates my everyday. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep I am bombarded with an endless amount of things to consume–goods, services and content. Unless I carve out time to make and create and defend that time aggressively, my entire day could easily be one long moment of consumption. So yes, going to Paris or even just looking at good architecture or a sunset would likely make me happier and more fulfilled than going shopping, but I want more than just new opportunities for consumption. I want to create. I want to make. I want a radical rethinking * of how we orient our lives and values. What do you think?

Why We’ve Had Enough Of Stuff via The RSA published February 5, 2014.

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