Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm Right, You're Wrong Minimalism

This rant has been a long time coming. I've held back because I try to be a "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" kind of person. Oh, wait, no I don't. Not in real life anyway. But online and in writing I try not to be too negative lest I later say something that shall be archived forever that I come to regret. But I've been pushed too far, for too long by a type of minimalist I can't keep silent about any longer:  the "I'm Right, Your Wrong" Minimalist.


You know the ones. The "your life sucks if you live in one place and still have a 8-5 job" types. The ones who espouse how if you own more that 100 things, you're a consumerist moron. The Far Beyond the Stars aka Everett Bogue aka I'm-just-going-to-start-making-up-BS-to-see-how-long-people-keep-giving-me-money types.


There seems to be a well-established formula to becoming an IRYW minimalist:
  1. Revel in consumerist orgy for first 20-35 years of your life. Rack up some crazy debt. 
  2. Finally wake up one day and realize massive debt sucks.
  3. Sell your crap until you own less than 100 things. Obviously books don't count. Nor do socks.Or anything you share with another person. Or anything once sat on or licked by another person. Or anything with purple-polka dots. Or lizards.
  4. Start a blog. 
  5. Cut living expenses to bone by sleeping on friend's couch. Pay off debts
  6. Tell everyone they are idiots if they ever buy anything or own anything. 
  7. Quit your job.
  8. Write e-book about how much better your life is now that you completed steps 1-7.
  9. Offer said e-book for sale for the low, low price of $19.99.
  10. Somehow build online audience despite acting like complete douchebag.
  11. Tell your readers they are complete morons who need to get a life and that the only solution is to buy your e-book for $19.99.
  12. Write second e-book about how easy it is to make a living writing and selling e-books.
  13. Decide you can't be bothered having discussions with unwashed masses anymore and turn off blog comments.
  14. Remind people that they are still morons and you now have super-duper double e-book package on sale for $49.95 and they are super-duper morons if they don't buy two!
  15. Declare blogs are dead and bloggers are morons. Offer elite subscriber's special newsletter instead for amazing, super low, never-before-heard-of price of $100/month. 

Obviously I exaggerate, but am I the only one who absolutely does not understand the popularity of certain blogs that are just dripping with arrogance? Take relative newcomers, The Minimalists. Now, I'll be the first to admit that these guys are nowhere near the level of the aforementioned total whackjob, yet still certain posts of theirs just make me want to smack them. Like a recent post about how you need to ditch your DVDs and get a life. Because, obvi, owning DVDs means one is a pathetic hoarder who does not have a life whereas knowing exactly how many possessions one owns equals living EXTREME. I can't dispute this on their blog, however, because they can't be bothered with accepting comments. So instead I shall rant here.

And really, how many black and white photographs of themselves do two 30-something men need? 

/rant

Ah, thanks, I feel better now.

p.s. Apologizes to EcoCatLady for borrowing her blog post format just this once.

56 comments:

  1. Oh, you so totally nailed it! I don't know why, but people who hold themselves up as some sort of expert on minimalist living, or voluntary simplicity really drive me crazy... especially when their "expert" status has been derived from a few years of trying some lifestyle experiment after a lifetime dedicated to money.

    I'm sure that part of the reason they feel the need to chastise everybody else is because on some level they're ashamed about how they used to live, but seriously folks, get off your high horses!

    Plus the whole concept of marketing yourself as a non-consumerist sort of seems like a contradiction in terms to me. It always drives me crazy to see these people who are being interviewed on various television shows and newspapers and who just are so. damned. full. of. themselves. And then they become obsessed with selling their stupid books etc, it's just a farce as far as I can tell.

    Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I find this sort of thing to be much more prevalent among males than females... Perhaps it's just a communication style thing, but there are a few bloggers out there (who I won't mention by name) that always make me want to throw things at the computer screen with their smug I'm 20-something-years-old-and-I-know-the-secrets-to-life-the-universe-and-everything attitude.

    OK... I'm gonna stop now before I burst a blood vessel. I think I'll go make some flatbread in my kitchen (which has WAY more than 100 things in it) because honestly, the way I feel at the moment I just need a nice warm vehicle for butter.

    BTW, no apologies necessary... I never met an lolcat that I didn't love!

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    1. Glad I'm not alone in ranting about this one! Also, very interesting point about the male vs female issue and communication styles. I think you may be on to something there! I actually can't think of a female blogger in the same genre I find mega-irritating. Things that make me go hrmmm.

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    2. Nina Yau is a doll, but she did make me want to smack her sometimes. She deleted most of her annoying old posts ('cause you know, holding onto a bunch of old posts is so not minimalistic), but there's still an "ode to the macbook" I find hilarious and kind of embarrassing.
      I love this post, you should rant more often (I think that's the point of a blog, unless you're selling an ebook, of course). This stupid notion that everybody should be making a living writing ebooks is what irks me the most. Seriously? How would the world function then? Some people actually like their jobs, and unlike what these people seem to believe, not everybody is a borderline hoarder drowning in debt. I was going to post the link to The Minimalist Part I video, but nicoleandmaggie beat me to it ;)

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  2. Hi,

    I enjoyed your rant. I have wondered how some of these people have so few things, and if it's a long-term commitment or just a schtick. Like how do they make food or do they eat take-out all the time? Are they really minimalists if someone else feeds them? Also, as you said, they must have been extreme consumers before, because even if I sold everything I own, including my car, it wouldn't add up to that much. It definitely wouldn't be enough to pay off my student loan. I think it is tempting to get caught up in the extremes of minimalism if you have, say, ocd tendencies, but they could be more humble about it.

    Delona

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    1. Thanks Delona! I always wonder if it's schtick too. I mean, I totally get that some people are happy living in super tiny homes with few belongings, a' la Rowdy Kittens. But most of those people, or the reasonable ones anyway, aren't trying to convince others that they have to do the exact same thing. Living consciously and figuring out what works for you is good. Blindly minimizing is really no better than blindly consuming.

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  3. Best blog post you have ever written. Fuck those arrogant bastards.

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  4. Love it. Ab.so.lutely. love it. I have unsubscribed this week to a handful of blogs that are written by "professional" minimalists - why? Because they are boring. Sure, they are living a minimalist life, but their tales are no longer personal but are more of the "tell us all what to do" type of posts. Bo.ring. I'm more into hearing how people are living this life day to day, what recipes they have stumbled upon, or what books they find interesting. That, to me, is real. And much more enjoyable to read. Cheers!

    ps. I nearly fell off my chair when I checked out one of the minimalists Pinterest wall - all the photos are black and white and most are of himself! Hee hee!

    pps. If I see one more minimalist blogger hawking an eBook, I think I will scream. That is all.

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    1. Thanks Erin. I eventually had to delete all the blogs that were annoying the crap out of me too. It's just easier. Better for the blood pressure, yada yada.

      p.s. Does this mean you're not going to buy my e-book? ;)

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  5. Totally enjoyed this post. :) I also love reading day to day minimalist journeys written by those who like me, are not quite perfect or at some total stage of non attachment. I find it quite interesting because true simplicity is also about reaching a point of sublime contentment within yourself...and I think when you get there, you are no longer concerned that some people aren't quite as far along as you but rather recognize that everyone is working toward a point that works for them individually.

    Great post! :)

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    1. "true simplicity is also about reaching a point of sublime contentment within yourself"

      Such an excellent point Colleen! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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  6. Thanks for the support Ladies (and lone Dude)! Maybe I should rant more often! (Now look what you've done! You've created a monster!!) Nah, probably not.

    But seriously, comments are the best part of blogging and this post just illustrates why. Which is another reason I don't understand the people who turn them off. Or worse, turn them off and tell you you can go somewhere else to "continue the conversation" like Google+ or Twitter. Um, but I'm here now, I'm not following you people all over the internets. Jeez. Without comments, you might as well just be writing a journal or talking to yourself, what's the point?

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  7. ROFL!!!!!

    I also enjoyed this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_ASIV2TvOg

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    1. nicoleandmaggie - Thanks for stopping by and laughing at my attempts to be funny. That video is a hoot. It's been a while since I watched it, thanks for the reminder. :-)

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  8. Don't let them get you down too much, the reason they turn off comments is because most of the comments they get would be from people who think the way you do. That post on getting rid of your dvd's got a total of 80 people who combined 'liked' it and 'tweeted' it. If they're only reached 80 people a day who can be bothered to literally click a button they're not making money off their writing; they're probably still swimming in debt and putting up false bravado to make themselves feel better.

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    1. Hi Mary - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Surprisingly, the vast majority of comments the "I'm Right, Your Wrong" minimalists get are people agreeing with them. I never understood that unless everyone who disagrees knows they'd just be wasting their time to comment...

      And, although I love a good rant, I don't wish The Minimalists or anyone else any ill will. If they can support themselves from their writing and blogs more power to them; I just don't get the attitudes. They seem very unnecessary.

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  9. you're right, and I don't either. Re-reading that, I came off a lot crabbier than I intended!

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  10. I tried listing the 100 things I would own but it just got ridiculous really.. Yes, some of us have 9 to 5 jobs but we can't all work out of Thailand with only an internet connection and a suitcase..

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  11. Can I just say that I LOVE you for this?! I swear, if you don't drink their KoolAid, death to you (and your blog lol). I try and point out some of the fallacies in some of the arguments, but it's pretty much like a religion/cult with all of the groupies blindly following. "Just do as they say, and life will be perfect!"

    It's funny I just found this because I was about to post something similar on my blog. Maybe I'll just need to link to this! Thank you for sharing this. I'm sick of the douchebaggery too!

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    1. Thanks MM, I love to be loved. And cult is the perfect word for it!

      Also, isn't it just fun to use the word douchebag? I think this post is the first time I've ever done so. Accomplishment! Hope you have a douchebag free day!

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    2. Forgot to mention (so you can add this to the douchebaggery list)...A minimalist blogger gave me a copy of his book. I asked if I could give away the copy on my blog after I read it. His response was yes...then "I'd appreciate a five-star review on Amazon if you get a chance." I was like WTF?! That's the best way to ensure you're NOT getting a 5-star review lol!

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  12. "Decide you can't be bothered having discussions with unwashed masses anymore and turn off blog comments."
    Comments help me write...I am personally offended when people turn off comments.
    And, the tears are still rolling down my face from your comment:
    "And really, how many black and white photographs of themselves do two 30-something men need?" You rant funny Candi!

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    1. Thanks Christine! I'm afraid my boyfriend doesn't usually think so (about my rant's being funny that is)

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    3. No, he most certainly does not.

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  13. Right on! I thought the DVD thing was over the top and kinda stupid. We have a handful of Christmas DVD's that we watch during the holidays, and yet, we are still minimalists. Also, we have 3 kids and my husband is only skilled in a narrow field which limits where we can live. And guess what? We don't like traveling anyway. Yet we are still minimalists!

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    1. Exactly, there is no one right way to do anything. It's all about what works for you! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Oh wow do I ever agree with you!! So much so that I wrote my own post about it over at simplyonpurpose.blogspot.com
    I don't understand the whole turning off the comments thing at all! There is nothing better to me than a discussion in the comments section after a post. Oh well, to each his own. There is so much more to minimalism than a few trendy, black and white photographed bloggers and we are helping the world see that! You go girl.

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    1. Right on Diane! Thanks for stopping by and commenting; I'm off to read your post now.

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  15. thank you! I'm so tired of seeing people using minimalism as a marketing tool. Nicely said.

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  16. A bit harsh. But I did laugh, so that is saying something then isn't it?

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    1. Harsh it may be, but I'm glad people are finding it a bit amusing as well.

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  17. yeah well done!
    Rue

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    1. Thanks Rue, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  18. Just so you know, I'm subscribing to your blog based solely on the fact that I loved this post.

    I also love my life, which includes a normal jb. And more than 100 items.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and subscribing SP. I'm glad to have you as a reader!

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  19. PS - your subscribe button link didn't work for me. It could just be me, but I thought I'd let you know. (subscribed manually through google reader)

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    1. Thanks SP! It wasn't set up as an auto-subscribe button, which isn't very user friendly, eh? I switched to feed burner and fixed that. Thanks for pointing this out!!

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  20. This is my first time here and I LOVED your rant! I, too, have wondered how owning enough basic kitchen equipment to make simple meals could count against me as a minimalist...or how using other people's stuff makes one more righteous. What the heck is that all about? This 36 year old mom of two would like to shake some sense into those know-it-all 20-somethings. But, of course, they'd never listen. What could I possibly know about minimalism? I own enough stuff to *gasp* run a household.

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  21. UPDATE: So I asked Joshua (from The Minimalists) how to clear up the discrepancy between his essays and real life personality (I met him at one of his tour stops, and he & Ryan seemed normal enough). He was ASTONISHED to hear that he could come across as a DB and couldn't offer any suggestions. I have come to the conclusion that he's really not ready for any real criticism (he seriously tweets & makes fun of anyone who gives him a less than stellar review on Amazon). I wanted to like him and give him a chance, but I don't have room for someone with an ego that big lol!

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  22. They do, unfortunately, come across as arrogant and seem to be trying to spearhead a "movement" to make a philosophical point more than anything else. I think most minimalists bloggers out there are pursuing minimalism for practical purposes and to improve their lives.

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  23. I'm new to minimalism and I must say, I loved this post. Still reading, learning and purging, but I thought this was great.

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  24. I have felt this way about various "minimalists" as well at times. I had a rant somewhere about EB when he decided he was going to live as a digital entity or something. I hope I do not come as as the type of minimalist you describe but I fear at times I may.

    I have admitted to being a hypocrite. I criticize others but then go off and do something that is against minimalist living. Sigh. I am a work in progress.

    Great post.

    Mark

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  25. I was actually rather disappointed that minimalism was a movement. I was slowly moving towards it, totally unaware that there was this tag attached to it, and now that I realise that there is, I was rather disillusioned by it all. I love this post as it echoes my thoughts, lol.

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  26. Sounds like you're referring to Ev Blogue, idiot douchebag.

    Today I was blocked from Ev Bogue's Google Plus - imagine that. I get blocked for: disagreeing with his perception of Singapore, his supposed fear of the government and the financial system, and asking the questions:

    1) What is this "work" you are always referring to
    2) If you are as tech savvy as you say, why don't you get a job working for a tech company?
    3) You have books online that are sold. Why are you constantly asking for donations? Are these books no longer selling or not being sold?

    Also, if he can spew garbage like he does, shouldn't he listen?

    After listening to all his whining about having $3 to his name, please contribute so he can continue his "work" I've had enough of this puss. Man up and be a survivor, not a whiner.

    He may well have some very good ideas but personally I think alot of what he says and how he acts towards others is rubbish. I'm not the first person he's banned from posting, all because I asked him questions he was unwilling to answer. Oh well, I can do without Ev Bogue :)

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  27. Their post (The Minimalists) about DVDs and how it's insanity to re-watch the same movie more than once was the stopping point for me on their site- I just couldn't believe they actually wrote that! I'm so glad you wrote this and it's great to read all the comments here- I read every single one.

    I don't think selling an e-book is such a bad thing, but if it's no more than your blog posts or "essays" put into a PDF then what's the point?

    Again, this is a great rant. I hope the "commercial minimalists" see the error of their ways someday.
    www.freemindtoday.wordpress.com

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  28. Only found you blog today (via The Minimalist Woman) and have to say "Ha, Ha! Loved this post!"
    Yes, I call myself a minimalist and yes I have a house and a garden and a car and two cats. I also love my 9 to 5 job. Anyone who actually meets me in "real life" can tell straight away I'm a minimalist, not that they always know what to call it, or even agree with it.
    Also totally agree about the sofa surfing thing, borrowing someone else's stuff on a near constant basis doesn't mean you're cool because you don't own that thing, it means you're uncool for not realising that you obviously need this thing. FFS!



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  29. Like "Anonymous", I just found this blog today as well...and if the rest of it is anything like this post, I'll definitely be back often. I think what some of you are missing, though, is what's really going on with people like Bogue and the Minimalist guys, and that is they are playing the oldest game in the world. They're nothing but hucksters. I mean, think about it. The whole approach is "Your life sucks, mine is better, stick with me and I'll let you in on the secrets I've discovered." Then they string you along, sucking money out of you until the notice the Paypal account is not filling up like it used to, they've run the string, and they pull the plug and move on. They're con men, nothing more. Oh...and I do have to add that I AM enjoying the fact that Bogue and his girlfriend are flat broke and begging for money. That's the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

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  30. I just found your blog and LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!! I don't want to be talked down to or made to feel inferior. I want some lessons I can ponder, humor and a little scratch behind the ear. ; ) I feel like some of the more extreme blogs speak to a very small group of elite people who sit around all day counting there items and feeling superior. I don't relate. I have a cat who sheds, a dog who eats my flip flops( and yes, I have more than one pair) and I like to have furniture to sit on, with options for different parts of a medium size house that lets me sit far enough away from the said dog once he eats the flip flops (he gets gassy). Point is, I like to live, I have to work and I dont like feeling degraded. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment Heather. I love, love, love comments! :-) Glad to know the tone of this blog isn't grating!

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    2. Far from it...I literally have been laughing out loud reading. : )Very few blogs can make me do that. :)

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  31. Do you believe there is privilege associated with choosing to become minimalist? I am saddened and horrified by a handful of minimalists who CHOOSE to leave their well-paying jobs and generous lifestyle habits behind to pursue a more simplistic way of being. I believe one has privilege, or unearned advantage associated with race, class, gender, education, etc., if you have the ability, the choice, in this case to more or less leave one lifestyle behind to pursue another. Moreover, privilege means you more than likely have the choice to resume your previous lifestyle if you so choose. At the very least, you still own the privilege you have come to benefit from at this point in life. To the white people-former six-figured corporate superstars-I am cool and forward thinking because I am giving up the majority of my belongings to preach to everyone, get a clue!

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  32. I just found this post tonight after being chewed out because I dared to make a negative comment on one of their (the Minimalists) facebook posts. Yep I called their post simplistic and smug. And what was their post. They declared that life was too short to do anything you don't like. Well maybe that is true for some who chose to leave their job and make money convincing others to follow their mantra, but for lots of us, especially those of us who are parents or are taking care of anyone besides oneself, life is just filled with doing stuff you don't like. But apparently my pointing that out was "ruining it for the rest of them". I guess they all want to believe that it is just fine living a selfish narcissistic life. Sorry about my rant, I was just so thrilled to find out I was not alone in finding them tiresome and smug! Thanks for your post.

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