On the weekend, I asked you – dear reader, to spend some time with some of your beloved ‘Stuff’. I also asked you to then go spend some time out in your favorite outdoor place and then evaluate how each of the above activity made you feel. So how did you feel?
Personally for me, the three hours I spent with my friends over a cup of coffee in an old part of Berlin and the two hours I spent with my girlfriend at our favorite burger joint in the evening beat the time I spent with my phone, laptop, Kindle and Co. hands down. In fact, while whiling away time on my phone and laptop, I felt a sort of pressure to constantly communicate digitally with friends/acquaintances over Gtalk, Email, Twitter, Facebook and Co. But what is the whole point of spending so much time trying to be in touch with other people digitally and sharing our lives over the internet when we can’t or don’t make time to interact with them in the real world?
The (sad) truth is that most of us are busy trying to achieve success, nay making money, so that we can buy more stuff. And we are trapped in a vicious cycle where the more we buy, the more we want to buy. So, we work even harder so that we can buy more of what we want and so on. Human beings were originally programmed to be gatherers – not knowing when and where the next meal might come from, we gathered as much as we possibly could. But times have changed, and we need to change with them. We no longer need to be hoarding stuff mindlessly.
It’s time we dug even deeper into another aspect of our nature – the need to collaborate and socialize. Often underestimated, meaningful human contact, collaboration and partnerships can satisfy our wants and give us a sense of belonging and fulfillment – at the same time doing a huge favor to our environment. After all, don’t they market retail therapy as a way of getting over depression and satisfying our emotional needs?
What’s the point of having all those toys when you have no time or no one to play them with? And all those nice shoes and clothes when you’re going to be alone at home (or worse still, in the office) on Friday nights? It’s time we de-cluttered our lives from all that stuff and made time and place for the things that really matter.