I read an article in The New York Times the other day entitled When Today’s Deal Is Tomorrow’s Regret, about people who have fallen victim to a “great” deal via Groupon or LivingSocial, only to find that they didn’t actually want or need the deal and it turned out they often spent more money and time doing their best to redeem the deals before their expiration date. Yay! I got a great deal at a restaurant that I don’t really like, that’s kind of far away. Sounds awesome.
As a longtime unsubscriber of both sites, I haven’t been subject to such purchases for quite some time. Early on, I did get some great deals — like a discount at a store that sells running shoes (I needed a new pair) and a pop-art store where I had just bought a print (bought a few more). After a while, all the deals sounded the same to me, and they weren’t relevant to my needs or wants. Knowing that the best deals would rise above the cruft on twitter, I cut my ties and moved on.
Then came Fab and I got hooked. Finally a daily deal site that was promoting artists, true craftspeople, and beautifully curated design. I was in LOVE. I referred my friends constantly and racked up some serious credits. I purchased several random items: 2 chunky necklaces (I’ve never worn either), a few great prints (still in their cardboard tubes), some super fun t-shirts (worn regularly).
I’ve got nothing against Fab. I think they’re an amazingly evolved model of the daily deal targeted to an audience that loves design, quirkiness and personality. I just made the realization that this is more stuff, and I don’t need more stuff right now. I kind of have enough.
My relationship with stuff is a work in progress. I’ve spent the last year purging a lot of stuff from my life. Stuff being actual stuff (clothes, tchotkes, etc), ideas, philosophies, and yes, people. It’s refreshing! Imagine opening your closet and it’s filled with all your favorite clothes, every day. Or going to a party and it’s all of your best friends, esteemed colleagues and people you admire or have always wanted to meet. Once the quality of the stuff in your life goes up, you want less of it.
Still, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not impervious to the siren call of stuff. While I may have unsubscribed to the mass market daily deal sites, I am tuned in to online folks who fall into the “people I admire” bucket who are constantly peddling stuff to me. Like, constantly. I bite, often, as it does not take up space in my home, but in my hard drive. It’s a whole new relationship with stuff, and a whole new way of consuming. Most of it is geared towards upping my game in my business & freelance life, but I’m realizing, it’s not that different from the stuff mentioned above.
While this post may have been initially inspired by the article in the Times, what flipped it from random thoughts in my head to a rambling blog post was some recent book peddling from those “people that I admire.” My realization (which might seem blatantly obvious) is that people are pushing their stuff on all of us at a rapid pace specifically to get magical bullet points under their name. It’s all a big race and hustle to get on, ironically, The New York Times Bestseller List, or to be the top book in X category on Amazon, or the first person to do this or do that. But you must buy now! And buy two! And tweet it to your friends! Share it on Facebook! Buy Buy Buy! NOW! Translation: You need more stuff, and you need it now, because I need those numbers.
There’s nothing wrong with having big goals, and yes, magical bullet points can open doors to exciting opportunities. They really do, just like an Ivy League degree does (I don’t have one). I’m just feeling a little unduped lately, and writing this post was a way for me to be more accountable for it.
I’d love to hear more about your relationship with stuff – whatever stuff means to you. Have too much of it? Could you do with some purging? Do you need more of a certain kind of stuff? Tell me more in the comments below…