Our lives seem to revolve around things. We work to get things, we want more stuff, new stuff, different stuff. We like buying stuff, we like creating stuff, consuming stuff. But rumour has it that in the present times, we are realising that we don’t need so much and that there’s something wrong with this obsession.
It’s been widely stated that Millenials already value experiences more than objects. But what does it all mean? Will we be spending less on objects? Will things be more expensive? Will we have really better, more quality things?
Everything changes but everything stays the same
When we live in an economy based on consumption, what happens if it degrowths? Does it ever actually slow-down? During quarantine, have we really stopped consuming? Or have we just refocused and changed our consumption habits to satisfy them in another way?
When we learnt about minimalism, did we really decrease our spending? Once when we followed the teachings of Marie Kondo, did we just learn to live with less more lovable things we already own or did we have to get some new things to love?
And that time we got stuck at home because of the COVID-19, did we just slow-down our life? Did we stop consuming? Or did we maybe just focus our consumption habits on digital stuff, especially content, entertainment and information (and food)?
It’s never been about having more
I don’t believe us as a society only want to have more. I believe we crave change and betterment in every possible way. Even when we are so afraid of change. Things are just a reflection of that. And honestly, obtaining things feels easier and more comforting when other more meaningful goals stay out of reach.
Call me a capitalist, but I believe in the system, at least as the thing that is currently working at some level, though it’s not perfect. The world is grey. Capitalism is grey. The production of goods should be fair and sustainable and politicians should be honest and love should be unconditional. But here we are.
As in so many aspects of life, what we could work on is knowing ourselves, knowing why we do what we do, why we buy what we buy, why we think as we do and how all of that works for us.
Ebbing and flowing
I’m sure better “things”, a better future is coming. Probably still not perfect, still not fair enough and not sustainable enough, but the world is also a work in progress. Let’s keep that in mind. We are working toward betterment, we can pivot, change, improve, go back, change something else, and keep trying. Be it with our personal habits, our consumption habits, our mindsets or our businesses. Let’s be hopeful.
The real future of things
So, what will we be seeing soon?
It’s being said that we are going towards a more conscious model of consumption in which quality will be more important and we will be OK owning less. I wouldn’t buy completely onto that trend though. But it will be strong in the marketing spheres. I’m sure more people will be fine spending more on more high-quality products and we will have more well-designed and well-crafted products at our fingertips. Still, we will probably see growth in mass consumption in low-priced items and content services as we look for the comfort of buying, for a sense of control in our lives. In all likelihood – and as soon as we can- we will be spending even more on experiences we can share, as a rebellious reaction for having been locked at home.
With minimalism, we learnt to own less and value well-designed, (with a certain) aesthetic and higher quality stuff. Though we learnt that we can always find something better that we could use to replace other things in order to own less.
With the realisation of the fashion damaged system, we learnt to love old clothing and went for the vintage, more sustainable option. But those clothes don’t always match our size and style, and sometimes they are faulty or need reworking. Buying second-hand objects is fun but it’s not always so much fun to own somebody’s else’s trash or having to clean it and make anew.
Will we learn to share more of our stuff and adopt what our friends and relatives do not need anymore in a way to own more meaningful stuff? Will we be more open to why we own what we own? Or we will just spend less as we wait for the world to work again as it used to?
I’ll probably be doing just everything of the above:
I’ll keep buying things to love, new and pre-loved, I’ll be upcycling, I’ll be consuming entertainment and I’ll be paying for experiences. And while I can’t go window-shopping, I’ll keep scrolling endless websites to satisfy my need of seeing stuff. In a more meaningful note, I’ll keep learning and creating more.
So, where will you be putting your rediscovered time and money now?