I’ve really started to enjoy pounding the treadmill in the gym. Not just because I want to get fit, although after my over indulgence in Cornwall it is necessary, but to enjoy the world of the Podcast. I’ve recently listened to various podcasts on Spotify, YouTube, BBC World Service and BBC 4 (list below).
As I was running, I became particularly interested in The Minimalists’ views about curation and ownership which is more thought provoking than it sounds. The fundermental starting point is this article:
Tyler Cowen is concerned because Americans own less stuff. Will this stagnate the economy? Cowen clearly thinks it will. It does question whether owning stuff is a good thing or not. Listening to The Minimalists’ podcast, raises several interesting points.
Due the new concepts such as Kindle, we do not own so many books. We don’t buy DVDs or videos like we used to because now we have such things as Netflix. Spotify and or YouTube caused us to stop buying CDs. Apparently, and this did surprise me, car ownership is decreasing because people now travel more and by bike, taxi (Uber), use public transport or walk. Cowen argues that the American dream to own things like cars is dwindling in favour of urban living, and greater reliance on the above mentioned.
This fascinates me because I’d never realised how little we do actually own nowadays in terms of these products, or even thought about it. I agree, this is a good thing. People still own stuff, but not as much. Not having to buy books, albums, DVDs and cars is beneficial. Just having your favourite books, albums (vinyl is making a come back), DVDs, etc, does suggest an organised way of living and provides the freedom to disengage from the extraneous stuff. Just have what brings value.
When I was growing up, everyone disliked the idea of renting possessions such as homes, cars and even televisions. This has changed, particularly with the younger generation. It is better for the environment to buy and keep good quality clothing, borrow/rent cars and live in smaller homes. Seriously, you only need so much stuff. Americans losing the connection with ownership is a good thing although don’t think it has happened …yet?
Focusing towards a sharing community is better isn’t it? Who wants all the gym equipment in their house? Do we really need a massive TV and a home theatre? Much better to go to a gym, see a play/film and chat with others. This is what life is about. Doing stuff rather than accumulating things. Going out and about and experiencing stuff.
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom. The Minimalists… (Joshua Fields Milburn, Ryan Nicodemus)
Cowen argues private ownership gives us a stake in the system. Yes, and it may force hard work rather than meaningful work. As mentioned on the podcast, we never really own anything; we just pass it on after 80 years anyway. This way of thinking is ambiguous, although thought provoking. The concept of ownership does remain important. However, the thing is not to become too used to excessive possessions. I advocate looking at your surroundings as a stranger would. Recently, I wondered why I still have a big table in my kitchen when I could replace it with something useful.
Obviously, some things are essential like a car, books, photography gear and furniture. But if you are short on time and have busy schedules, then it maybe a good idea to evaluate what you actually use and need day to day.
I am well aware people will read this, and think haven’t got time to worry about stuff. But having just returned from a break in Cornwall and unpacked my little case, in about five minutes, think again. Why have I been taking a massive suitcase with me all these years? It was great to return home without loads of stuff. (Although still have a shoe issue…)
As a minimalist you still own stuff but only what brings value. It creates simplicity and purpose and removes everything that distracts us from good experiences. Wish I’d realised this years ago because it saves so much time and energy although still working on it.
In fact, views about owning a property are slightly changing. Unfortunately, in the UK rents are extortionate so the whole process is challenging. People try to invest in a property in a cheaper area, part own a property or rent. Also, it is popular now to save and live frugally and invest in a future without being tied, long term, to a job you hate. The main premise then is possibly having a decent space (living area) with the minimal sleeping area and fewer possessions. Do not let the stuff own you. Ultimately, people may prefer to own a property and accumulate wealth or rent and not have the responsibility of ownership. Not everyone wants ‘a stake in the system’. They may just want to do what suits them and be a part of a community and contribute. This does seem common nowadays with the notion of online work, charities and so on.
Overall, focus on what is needed and brings value. I’m still thinking about that dining table and why I take several pairs of shoes on holiday but there is no such thing as the perfect ‘minimalist’ or for that matter, environmentalist or anything else. This podcast is thought provoking and does advocate a changing society.
Any comments are welcome and hope you enjoyed my musings about life.
Podcasts I enjoy…
The Minimalists/Happier/The Dr’s Kitchen (Spotify)
Health Check/The Infinite Monkey Cage/Crowd Science/Business Matters/World Book Club (BBC)
4 thoughts on “Minimalism – Podcasts and the Concept of Ownership…”
The bit about ‘renting television’ was interesting. In the past, of course, televisions were almost always rented. From the 50s through to the 90s, most British people rented their TV (and video player when they came along) from companies such as Radio Rentals. You paid a monthly fee, you got free servicing (important, given the poor reliability of televisions back then) and every now and then you had the opportunity to upgrade to the latest and greatest.
I think what killed the market was the emergence, in the 90s, of televisions that were much, much more reliable, and the various chains that operated in the market just seemed to vanish over a period of a very few years. It’s also the case that ever the last 20 years we’ve gone through several significant changes in the technology that would make it difficult for the old rental chains to manage. Television technology didn’t really change from the mid-60s (the arrival of colour TV and ‘625 lines’) through to the 90s (the arrival of wide-screen TVs). Since then we’ve had flat-screen (either plasma or LED), HD, 4K, OLED displays…. I wonder if in times of change like that it’s hard for rental companies to survive? And has satellite TV had a role in this change, I wonder?
Yes, equipment is cheaper now and people don’t think of these items as luxuries nowadays. However, I think the concept of borrowing/renting is returning due to the high cost of property and space in homes which is now smaller, especially in the UK. Also, there is definitely a resergence of the second hand market, particular clothing, due to environmental issues and the economy. Thanks for your fascinating comment. 🙂
Hi there, terrific post – I loved it – it has some really interesting insights – thanks so much, Lxx
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Thank you so much. It’s an interesting subject. Hope to do more posts on minimalism. 🙂
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