by Leo Babauta
As minimalism seems to slowly grow in popularity, the more popular trend is criticizing minimalism.
Nearly everyone who doesn’t consider himself a minimalist has some criticism.
Much of that is simply because it’s a trend, and people tend to attack anything trendy. But I think a bigger reason is that people feel threatened when they feel their lifestyle is criticized — and at its core, that’s what minimalism is. A criticism of the (modern) American way of life.
Minimalism isn’t about being cool or hip (though some might think so). It’s about re-examining our lives. It’s bucking against the trend of overconsumption, of consumption as the fundamental act of our lives. It’s a critique of the status quo of owning too much, of mindless buying of gadgets and big cars and clothes and other luxury items.
That critique is threatening to many people, and minimalism’s critics are often justifying their way of life. Take just one of many criticisms (there are too many to name): “I’m not a minimalist, I’m an appropriatist”. Or something like that (I haven’t seen the original quote). Sounds good, but if minimalism is asking “is this really necessary?”, then what does an appropriatist ask? “Is this appropriate?” Well, anyone can say anything is appropriate — my BMW is appropriate for my life, right? Basically, an appropriatist can also be called a “status quoist”.
And that’s just one of many examples. It often feels like when I tell people I’m a vegan — they immediately get defensive about why they eat meat. I think that’s a good thing — at least they’re thinking about it, often for the first time.
Honestly, I have nothing against criticisms of minimalist — in fact I welcome them. Every time I see a criticism, I smile. Minimalism for me isn’t showing off, but simply starting a (long overdue) discussion. And it’s worked: people are talking about these issues, arguing both sides, and that is great. I’m simply asking the critics to consider whether they’re just being defensive, or if they’re arguing from an honest place with rational objections.