‘Stuffocation: living more with less’ is the title of a book reviewed in yesterday’s Guardian. It caught my eye because it links into one of my resolutions for January – ‘get rid of stuff’ – and ironically it publishes on my birthday, which is some sort of omen if you believe these kind of things.
Anyway, the basic premise is that in the modern consumer society we are more interested in conspicuous consumption than we are in quality of experiences. ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is very much a symptom of this malaise and social media feeds the obsession. Whereas in recent history the ‘Joneses’ literally lived next door or were parents at your kid’s school, now this is magnified tenfold (no, make that a hundredfold) through Facebook, Twitter, etc. The lifestyles ‘described’ on our tablet screens can seem so much more glamorous than our own if we are foolish enough to be caught up in the hype.
James Wallman argues that buying experiences contribute far more to our happiness – and I wouldn’t disagree, this being very much my approach to life in recent years. Give me an exciting travel opportunity over a new car anytime. But there is an ‘overlap’ zone (for want of a better name). What about the ‘stuff’ we buy that results in new experiences? The mountain bike that takes us off exploring new places; the artist’s paints that inspire a new way of looking at our environment or, as in my case, the new camera that re-sparks a hobby you were passionate about before babies arrived on the scene?
Personally I think careful choice of ‘stuff’ can add to our quality of life, providing you don’t accumulate too much. Mindful of my resolution to replace like with like, ie to throw out the old, I am cheating a little with the camera – the ‘old’ was literally lost in Melbourne, but I don’t think anyone will hold that against me. I love the way this resolution also sits neatly with the one about seeking opportunities to be more creative – two birds with one stone! Anyway, for the photographers amongst my extensive fan base, I will blog about how I get on with my dinky new Canon EOS M, which is a compact DSLR (for the uninitiated this means I can buy additional lens and bits and bobs to expand the system). (Hang on, this means more stuff).
Setting it up has been a painful experience, but it has had the added bonus of keeping me off Facebook. It took two hours this morning to get the shutter to work but I got there in the end, which was quite satisfying in itself. Tim had nicked the car without permission (the swine) so I got out quite late in the afternoon for today’s experimental shots. It was bloody freezing! Do scroll down and leave a comment if you know why the exposure changes on the church shots. The ones taken at the lock used the touch screen focus.