Criticisms of Minimalism (ARCHIVE)
Originally posted September 2, 2017
Lately, there have been a few articles chastising minimalism circulating the web. My goal today is to dispel what I think are the recurring criticisms of minimalism. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, look here, here and here.
Here are five recurring criticisms of minimalism.
There is one type of minimalist. Many criticisms of minimalism rely on stereotyping, painting the minimalist as one ‘type’ of person. Here in the blogosphere and on YouTube alone minimalists represent people from all walks of life, a variety in gender, age group, family structure, social status and many other factors. You don’t have to be a particular ‘type’ of person to feel the benefits of simplifying your life.
Minimalism is for the wealthy. Many arguments against minimalism suggest that downsizing is a ‘privilege’ of the wealthy, arguing that those who struggle financially cannot afford to reduce clutter in their lives. I would argue that while some minimalists are definitely wealthy, these do not necessarily represent the majority. Most minimalists aim to simplify their material belongings to focus on more important things, and there is no income bracket that makes this desire more ‘legitimate’.
Minimalism is a faux spirituality. I have been asking people to donate their worldly possessions, don a grey cloak, give me a tithing of their income and move into my compound for months, and it still hasn’t happened! Seriously though, I can see that when people talk about the benefits of minimalism, it might read as some sort of gospel or pseudo enlightenment, but people do that with all manner of subjects. The experience is as individual as you, and as a general rule in life, if you are sceptical about something someone is telling you, follow your own path.
Minimalism is selfish. Critics ignore the benefits of minimalism to individuals and society. Minimalism can be a solution to many problems. Our rampant consumption fuels the production of lower quality goods, poor working conditions, and a massive amount of environmental waste. Can a few people changing their shopping habits really improve the world? Probably not. I think the real question is why some critics feel the need to attack people who want to leave less of an impact. These criticisms ignore the fact that many minimalists can reduce their environmental footprint and support artisans and small business by becoming more conscious consumers.
Minimalism looks boring. Critics of minimalism seem to suggest that people purge their belongings to fit into a decor ‘fad’. Most people who actually talk about their own minimalist experience express feeling calmer in their homes. As someone who has removed a lot of clutter and colour from my interior, I can say there is a sense of calmness in my decor. In saying this, there are plenty of minimalists who embrace colour. Once again, there is no formula to any of this.