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Opinion The conundrum of minimalist clutter

George HasaraA few years back, my wife and I canceled satellite service at the house. Internet streaming, at a fraction of the cost, replaced the traditional broadcast format for our television viewing. After cutting the traditional TV cord, we never looked back or missed a commercial. We aren't alone pulling the plug on cable/satellite service.

What had started as a good value then witnessed “mission creep” as options and price escalated, with viewing pleasure diminishing. Years rolled by until the realization that the boob tube had become a money pit and I was the boob shoveling cash into the hole. Paying for hundreds of channels with little to watch serves as a segue to the concept of less is more.

There is a growing minimalistic living movement with various definitions of itself. For some, this new-found frugality takes the old concept of “living within your means” to the next level of living below your means. In New York City, the micro apartment of 200-400 sq. ft. is big. However, the price tag isn't small, which begs the question of achieving a simplified life. I suppose if you are affluent, you can afford faux frugality and rental storage space for all the things that won't fit in your home.

One doesn't have to be wealthy to have too much. However, I really don't know what the demarcation line is. One person's pack rat is another person's skilled collector. I have a half dozen ukuleles. Can I play them all at the same time? Maybe I need more practice and less purchasing. What's in your closet? Perhaps as a basic rule, if you don't know you have it, you probably don't need it. Sort of like your spleen.

While cutting back on material objects certainly has its value, it is only half the equation of a more minimalistic life. There is also the issue of “clutter” of activities that crowd our lives much in the same way as junk seems to reproduce in our basements.

I lack a concrete opinion on what constitutes quality time because people have such varied interests and different approaches to life. For myself, there should be a significant amount of productive time (as defined by me) mixed in with relaxation and various mindless activities such as posting on Facebook. It's not enough simply to waste our time, more time has to be spent informing others of the fact - creating a feedback loop of useless information that can be accessed by the NSA.

While writing this article, I noticed that my computer screen is once again covered with icons. These thumbnail images are designed to make navigating your computer easier and more efficient as long as their use is... minimal. Sounds like a metaphor for life and another excuse to play with my computer.


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