Minimalism "not really minimal"

Kyle Chayka is a writer living in Brooklyn.

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Oh come on, nobody’s calling him out for “Buying land! That was for sale!”

Robert Rhinehart … has described it as an “eco home” and “experiment in sustainable living.”

“I have private security conduct regular inspections.”

Personally, I’d call him out for being a weird idiot who seems to willfully ignore his place in a connected world. Unless his private security also lives in a sustainable eco home, in which case I should give him more credit.

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Pretty much any movement can be subverted into a form of fetishized status seeking or taken to ridiculous extremes but that doesn’t mean the original idea doesn’t have merit. This is especially true when viewing “minimalism” in opposition to “conspicuous consumption” (though this is only one aspect of it).

Ironically, Kyle Chayka seems to be engaging in an ideological purity test throughout his article by writing that many aspects of minimalism aren’t truly minimalist as we’ve just outsourced the complexity involved (technology, coffee, etc)… as if that doesn’t have a tangible improvement on people’s lives in terms of money, time, and resources. Maybe he’d fit in with the elitist minimalists he’s describing better than I would!

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Yeah, I’m a minimalist for the same reasons really. I have some strong value judgments about consumerism mixed in there, but the real motivator is storage and moving and my own psychological issues with clutter/mess.

I also reject the entire framing of this as some kind of lifestyle brand or identity that has been polluted by hipsters hipsterizing it and privileged jerks richifying it. That smacks of narcissism to me, or something like it.

Having less useless crap, like exercising, meditating, eating well and paying attention to what information I consume are things that I have found make my life better. So I do them. I listed the ones that are easier for the more privileged and are prone to trendiness and annoying online communities and hot takes, but how dumb would I have to be to change my personal life because of that?

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The thing that gets me is that snarking on something for being easier for privileged people gets ugly in a hurry. For example, worrying about diversity in video games. Times of my life when I’ve been poorer, I didn’t worry about diversity in video games because I was too busy trying to make a buck to hopefully pay bills on time, to concern myself over games.

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At some point, Boing Boing encountered a popular writer who talks getting rid of clutter in the home, but–this is crucial–does so in a sort of vaguely new-age-y way, and as a result Boing Boing immediately decided decluttering, minimalism, and basically anything that sounds like “I feel like I own too much stuff” is morally bankrupt mumbo-jumbo. I actually had someone earnestly try to convince me that having so much shit in my apartment that I had trouble walking around wasn’t a problem. (I’ve since gotten rid of 90% of it, a great improvement.) It’s weird.

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