mnmlist: downsides of minimalism
by Leo Babauta
It’s true that I might too often make minimalism seem like it’s all roses, all upside. But there is a downside to everything, including minimalism.
In order to better prepare you, my lovely and good-hearted reader, for minimalism, it’s my duty to point out some of the downsides. Consider this post my due diligence.
Some downsides to minimalism:
- You get to know Craigslist, Goodwill and other charities all too well as you clean out your clutter.
- You have to figure out other things to do with yourself besides shopping and browsing shopping sites.
- If you travel lightly for a few weeks with only a small carry-on, customs officers might get suspicious — who travels with almost nothing, besides maybe a terrorist? My friends Corbett_Barr and his wife Jessie recently had this experience going into Europe with a small bag each — officials didn’t believe they were really traveling for three weeks without luggage.
- People will tease you about which of your two shirts you’re wearing today. I don’t mind this — there are worse things to be teased about.
- If you are a well known minimalist and happen to shop at the Gap or the Apple store, you worry that people will see you and judge you for hypocrisy.
- If you give up your cable TV, you have to find other things to do. I like to read or exercise. Also, you aren’t aware of non-Internet pop culture — I had to Google Jwow recently (didn’t know who she was) and was shocked at how much I’ve apparently been missing.
- Family will harass you about not buying gifts. They will live. So will you.
- You don’t get as good a workout walking around with a light bag instead of one laden with lots of stuff. I put weight plates in my backpack if I want to compensate for this.
- People online will accuse you of being “trendy” because you’re a minimalist. People who aren’t online as much will wonder what the hell a minimalist is.
- Your one pair of jeans will go from being dark and dressy to faded, frayed, and more welcome in an Occupy camp than in nice restaurants.
- When family comes to visit, you’ll be confused as to why they have so much stuff with them, even if they’re just there to visit for a few hours.
- When you go to other people’s houses, you might start mentally fantasizing about getting rid of their stuff for them.
- People will ask you, almost non-stop, how you can be a minimalist with so many kids. If you don’t have any kids, they’ll roll your eyes and say, “Of course you’re a minimalist — you’re a bachelor!”
- People will always, always try to point out the hypocrisy of being a minimalist and something else about you — your articles are too long to be a minimalist! You have 25 books — that’s not minimalist! Etc.
- Others might feel threatened by you, because your minimalism will be seen as a criticism of their lifestyle. They will live.
- You will get weird looks when you turn down free “schwag” at sporting events, conferences, parties. Who doesn’t want a bunch of free promotional junk?
- People will give you pitying looks when they see you have a simple dumb phone, and can’t play Angry Birds or use Instagram on the train like they can.
- If you don’t have a car, people will think you’re poor, even if you are wealthier for not having the car. And healthier, and time rich.