The holiday season is always a bit tough for me. Not because of all the food, or visits with inlaws (I actually like them!), or the dreary weather. It’s consumerism gone rampant that really gets to me.
As a budding minimalist, the consumer spending habits most people are addicted to really irk the heck out of me. What is the point of all this buying of stuff? Does it make you happier? The thing with habits is that people have complicated defense mechanisms built up around them – they’ll agree the holidays are too consumeristic while at the same time having detailed justifications for their over-the-top participation in it.
I’m not trying to be a grinch – I’ll be buying presents for those closest to me. But when it gets to secret santa circles with all your relatives I think it’s getting a little carried away. Exchanging presents with people you don’t live with ends up becoming just a matter of buying things off each other’s Amazon wishlist – you buy $50 off my wishlist and I buy $50 off your’s – why not just exchange $50 (aka, net zero) and call it a day?
The Consumption Loop
With Black Friday coming up, companies are ramping up their advertising – buy that new car you really need, or the jewelry or expensive clothing! As Mr Money Mustache would say, this is the time of year when companies try to sell us a “huge array of Absolute Crap”.
In light of all this advertising it’s not surprising people succumb to the purchasing binge that retailers desire (retailers engineered it after all). It taps into that primal human urge to consume and acquire shiny objects.
But consumption is a never ending hunger – you can feed it and feed it and you’ll still never be satisfied. Consumption is an insatiable beast.
Walking into a mall puts me into a grumpy, discontented state – I’m flabbergasted by all the things around me, and how hard the store is working at getting people to buy them. And how many people are falling for it. Retail stores like Macy’s invest millions into researching what gets people to buy things, and more of it, and then people walk into a store and fall for it. How sad is it that we are so easily manipulated?
Sailing Is a Natural Consumerism Defense
Consumption is not so important on a cruising boat. Sailing is forced minimalism. Once you’re at sea, there is no consumerism. The sea won’t take your money. The weather cares not for your currency nor your desires. It’s true there are things you need to buy to prepare to go to sea, but once you’re off cruising there are relatively few opportunities to spend.
“A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft. He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard motor with gas, and a female companion.”
Sailing short-circuits the consume-buy-consume vicious circle.
REI had the courage to go against the crowd and is doing an #OptOutside event where their employees are given the day off and everyone is encouraged to get outside instead. This is a great idea, and the fact it was perceived as a bold move in the news media is a ludicrous statement on the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into.
We’ll be participating in #OptOutside by going sailing. Happy Thanksgiving to all! We’re grateful for all we have and to live in an amazing place of the world where we have views like this: