Minimalism seem to be all the rage right now – I see it as a collective reaction against the excesses of the past decade, coupled by the necessity of having to cut back amidst economic uncertainty. But could you cut back so much that you step over the line between minimalist and cross into moocher territory?
After I read this article, “The Cult of less” in the BBC, I think the answer is yes. The article features Chris Yurista, a D.C. travel agent and DJ who says that technology has replaced the need for most of his possessions and even a physical home.
Since boxing up his physical possessions and getting rid of his home, Mr Yurista has taken to the streets with a backpack full of designer clothing, a laptop, an external hard drive, a small piano keyboard and a bicycle – an armful of goods that totals over $3,000 (£1,890) in value.
The DJ has replaced his bed with friends’ couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s.
That’s great and all – who doesn’t aspire to a life filled with meaning, not clutter? But I wonder what Mr. Yurista’s friends have to say about his lifestyle. To be fair, he could be chipping in for rent and utilities (or do other things to thank his friends for their hospitality) and the article just didn’t mention them. Or, perhaps Chris has access to cheap or discounted hotel rooms through his job, and he only leans on his friends for infrequent overnight visits.
If that were the case, then BC has done Mr. Yurista a disservice by portraying him so unsympathetically – the blogosphere is already pointing out the paradox: in order to live a minimalist, residence-free lifestyle, you have to find people who ARE willing to rent an apartment and pay for utilities.
If this wave of minimalism will help us reexamine our relationship with “stuff,” that’s great. If Chris Yurista were building his digital, rent-free lifestyle on the backs of his stuff-carrying, rent-paying compatriots, however, then he might be a minimalist, but he is also a moocher.