Decluttering: Creation Over Consumption
Consumerism is not a new problem in these United State of America. Our country is built on it. The entire advertising and marketing industry centers around “giving the people what they want”.
Or at least what they think they want.
Or what makes them feel better.
People spend money on solutions to problems, even if they’re only perceived.
A lot of money.
It stands to reason that consumerism plays a huge role in how we tend to use technology.
Hatchets are traditionally used as tools to clear brush and small trees. They are sharpened and oiled and kept in a leather sling. Farmers use them. Woodsmen use them. Hunters use them. A hatchet is a tool associated with hard work and demanding activity.
But not so much in 2019.
Now bearded, urban, hipsters throw hatchets at targets while drinking small-batch craft beer.
There is nothing wrong with throwing hatchets. (Maybe if too much high-gravity craft beer is involved?) Over time the purpose of a hatchet evolves into something else. It’s not work. It’s target practice. It’s play. It’s a toy, not a tool.
This is happening with phones and laptops and iPads.
The possibility to create using these as tools is almost endless.
But the primary way we use them is to consume. Not create. They’ve become toys parents use to pacify their children in the grocery store.
If this is the only way we use these tools, we’re better off locking them in the glove compartment and hiking a trail or using a hatchet to clear some land.
Cal Newport talks about reclaiming your leisure time in the same way. He argues for “demanding activity” primarily in the analog world. For many, this may be an essential caveat.
However, I’m still astounded at how little I use this machine on which I type these words every morning. I could launch rockets, run global financial institutions, and make feature-length films with this incredible piece of technology that sits on my desk. I can do most of those things with the technology I have in my pocket.
But I am barely throwing a hatchet at a target. Scrolling Instagram is the primary way I see people use their phones. It’s an expensive, adult ViewMaster.
So, I say create and do demanding things in both the analog and digital world. But create more than you consume.
That not only makes the world a better place, but it also makes you a better person.