Author Topic: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture  (Read 1902 times)

Sun Hat

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Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« on: January 21, 2019, 07:34:57 AM »
This article doesn't mention MMM, but discusses priviledge, minimalism and consumerism as it relates to the KonMarie method and the Tidying Up series.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/tidying-up-netflix-college-class-1.4983024


StarBright

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2019, 08:32:48 AM »
I really liked how the prof hit on the idea of objects sparking joy as still being an essentially capitalist and privileged idea.

I bought all into minimalism several years ago and went too far. I've found myself needing things again and I've slowly been replacing a bunch of things that I threw out (specifically when it came to things like clothes/shoes, and cleaning stuff for my home).

Looking back, we were pretty minimal to begin with, but I was just digging into mustachiansim and in my enthusiasm sort of threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Malkynn

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2019, 09:07:57 AM »
I have never interpreted the KonMari method to be about minimalism. It's misinterpreted as being about minimalism because the vast majority of north americans have so much goddamn shit in their homes that the KonMari method will result in them getting rid of heaps and heaps of unnecessary crap. Getting rid of stuff just happens to be the first step in organizing if you have too much stuff. If you don't over buy and don't tend to hold onto crap, then that part isn't very important at all.

I'm a minimalist, and I've really enjoyed some KonMari techniques for organizing, especially the counter intuitive concept of not tackling a given room at a time, but an entire category. I also appreciate her systems for being able to see everything clearly. Some of us have extremely good memories and mental maps of where things are, but some of our spouses do not, and that's a recipe for gradual breakdown of organizational systems if they are not visually obvious enough.

A home can be disorganized due to excess stuff, poor organization, or both...and it's usually both. Very little of the KonMari method actually addresses the excess stuff other than to only keep what "sparks joy" when really, the organizational elements would be far more critical for maintaining order if we weren't a society of insane over consumption.
If you don't over buy shit for irrational reasons, then KonMari is way more about little boxes than it is about purging items.

There's a difference between promoting minimalism and discouraging hording behaviours. The people on "Tidying Up" just have sooooooo much shit from what I've seen so far, that the focus is on what they should be getting rid of as opposed to really focusing on how to organize it. It's just that hording makes for good tv. Watching people with a reasonable amount of stuff organize it into little boxes isn't exactly riveting television.

Now, the prof isn't wrong. The whole KonMari concept is still highly capitalist and privileged, but I don't think anyone has ever earnestly tried to imply that it wasn't. It's not minimalism, it's never been about minimalism, and it's never promoted an anti-consumerist agenda, so arguing that it doesn't is kind of irrelevant.

Dicey

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2019, 09:11:54 AM »
That's my biggest fear. I can't tell you how often I buy something, but don't put it to use until much later. Four years ago, I bought a bunch of dresses on a super end-of-season sale, all but one of which I've gotten really good use out of. One  particularly fancy one went unworn and I berated myself for buying it. I finally had occasion to wear it recently, and DH flipped. He absolutely loved it! Now I'm looking forward to wearing it again and again.

Ugh. I know I will be happy for culling all the things in my life, but it's going to take a while.

Malkynn

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2019, 09:28:49 AM »
That's my biggest fear. I can't tell you how often I buy something, but don't put it to use until much later. Four years ago, I bought a bunch of dresses on a super end-of-season sale, all but one of which I've gotten really good use out of. One  particularly fancy one went unworn and I berated myself for buying it. I finally had occasion to wear it recently, and DH flipped. He absolutely loved it! Now I'm looking forward to wearing it again and again.

Ugh. I know I will be happy for culling all the things in my life, but it's going to take a while.

A few dresses here and there that don't get worn for years is just fine. Plenty of people have formal wear that they only wear once, or only once every several years. It's when you compulsively buy things on sale because they might be useful in the future and then eventually get to the point where you can never even remember what you have when the opportunity comes up to use it...that's a problem.

I've helped a lot of people organize and I can't tell you how many women I've seen who bought heaps and heaps of things for grandchildren and then forgot they had them and they weren't ever used because by the time they were found, the kids were too old for all of the supplies/toys/clothes hidden in the garage/attic/spare bedroom.

I've also seen a lot of hobbyists who stock up on hobby supplies when they are on sale, but forget what they have stored in boxes and they just go out and buy more supplies when needed instead of wading through piles of crap stored away.

Many people don't shop for rational reasons, they shop because they get high off of shopping. Owning the object is basically just a side effect of buying it. That's why the heaps of crap aren't satisfying, it's the next item to be added to the heap that satisfies most. That's why these people have sooooooooooo many unworn clothes and shoes. It's nuts.

BTW: never beat yourself up for buying and keeping that dress, it's a goddamn stunner and you should just wear it around the house with your hubby if you need an excuse to wear it.

PoutineLover

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2019, 09:55:02 AM »
I've seen a lot of complaints about the KonMarie thing, and I don't really get all the hate. I read the book a couple years ago and I watched the first episode (plan on watching more). I have used her method to get rid of a bunch of stuff I wasn't using and cleared out a lot of space, but I still have to do more. I move every couple years so I often need to purge a bunch of stuff that's not worth carting around from place to place, especially when I moved in with my partner and we had twice as much stuff as we needed. Without decluttering, we would have been drowning in things, with duplicates and triplicates.
Most of the complaints seem to come from people who are deliberately misinterpreting her lessons, or just don't understand how to do it. She's not telling you to get rid of things you need or use or want to keep. She's giving you permission to let go of things that you are keeping despite not using, for whatever reason. Yes, it may be a privilege thing if you have too much stuff due to over consumption and consumerism, but it also allows people of lesser means to keep things that may be deemed "luxuries" by others because it sparks joy for them, and it allows everyone to get rid of things they are hanging on to out of guilt or obligation.
I have regretted a few items here or there that I didn't need at the time but later thought I could have used, but that is far outweighed by the things that I have never given a second thought to and forgot I ever bought it or threw it out. A good rule of thumb is that if it would take less than 20 minutes or cost less than 20 dollars to replace, and you haven't used it in a year, you can probably toss it. (Or set your own time/cost according to your own means). Also, by maintaining only the possessions you really want, you can think of the longevity and quality more, and spend more once to have fewer but nicer things, reducing waste and recurring costs of replacing cheap things that don't last. Environmentalism and support of local business ties into the concept.

TRD

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2019, 08:03:01 PM »
I’ve been following KM Facebook groups for years because I like seeing before/after photos. I’m always astonished though when people of very limited means start panicking because if they sorted by joy-only they’d have two shirts and a pair of jeans but can’t afford to replace the stuff they don’t love. I always point out that while
Joy can be sought in the perfect jeans or whatever, sometimes you can find joy in having clothes to wear without wasting money to buy more when money is tight. I don’t find joy in my junky hotel pen stash but I’m always delighted when a pen runs out of ink or I lose one and I can just start using the next one without spending $5 on another box of pens.

I agree with the person who said we interpret it the way we do because Americans have too much stuff. Yes we do, myself included.

marble_faun

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2019, 09:58:09 PM »
The article to me seemed like paint-by-numbers cultural criticism.

KonMari is for people who own way too much, who have stuffed closets and drawers and are suffocating in a heap of useless junk. 

It's not for the poor person who owns a single winter coat or a single pair of shoes.  That person might have problems, but not this particular set of problems.

Yes, the KonMari target audience is more privileged than people who can barely afford the basic necessities, but using that as a core criticism of the show just seems silly.  It would be like saying diet advice targeted at Americans who want to lose weight is privileged because there are people starving in other parts of the world.  Like, wow... such a "woke" observation.

No negative vibes intended toward the OP who started this thread.  The article is just part of a broader trend of click-bait commentary that has started to annoy me with its shallowness.

Malkynn

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2019, 05:26:46 AM »
The article to me seemed like paint-by-numbers cultural criticism.

KonMari is for people who own way too much, who have stuffed closets and drawers and are suffocating in a heap of useless junk. 

It's not for the poor person who owns a single winter coat or a single pair of shoes.  That person might have problems, but not this particular set of problems.

Yes, the KonMari target audience is more privileged than people who can barely afford the basic necessities, but using that as a core criticism of the show just seems silly.  It would be like saying diet advice targeted at Americans who want to lose weight is privileged because there are people starving in other parts of the world.  Like, wow... such a "woke" observation.

No negative vibes intended toward the OP who started this thread.  The article is just part of a broader trend of click-bait commentary that has started to annoy me with its shallowness.

I wouldn't at all say that KonMari is only for wealthy people or for people who only have way too much stuff.

I've known plenty of poor families with kitchen junk drawers, messy closets/dressers, and kid's stuff on the floors. Poor families may not have hundreds of pairs of unworn sneakers in their guest room closet, but they also don't tend to have tons of space, so to assume that strategies for organization and tidying are only for the wealthy is a bit...rich.

The vast majority of her advice is regarding *how* to organize things. I'm pretty sure rich and poor can both benefit from strategies for organizing kitchen drawer items by size instead of by use, or how to fold clothes so that you can easily see them in a drawer.

KonMari *isn't* primarily about getting rid of piles of stuff, that just happens to be the part that gets focused on because it's an ultra common problem. North Americans are hoarders who love watching worse hoarders, so that's what the TV show focuses on.

For Kondo though, she doesn't care how much stuff you have. If it makes you happy and it's tidy, she's happy.

You could make an entire show about actual minimalists using KonMari method to better organize their few possessions, but it wouldn't be very compelling television.

That's what I dislike most about the prof's criticisms, they are intellectually lazy because they don't account for the actual source material. I feel like the prof lazily watched a few episodes and decided they understood everything from there, but meanwhile, they're spouting pseudo intellectual BS.

The only valid argument is that there is a consumerist element to possessions"sparking joy" specifically because Tidying Up is NOT a minimalist philosophy, nor has it ever claimed to be, and Kondo specifically reminds people of that on the show regularly.

Kondo has never ever claimed to be an anti-consumerist minimalist, so criticizing her for failing to live up to anti-consumerist, minimalist values is just absurd.

It's makes as much sense to describe the show "What Not To Wear" as being about minimalism just because they throw away the vast majority of people's clothes and make them only buy what they love.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2019, 07:35:54 AM »
Marie Kondo isn't a minimalist at all; well maybe she is- but she doesn't think everyone should be.  She's about owning things intentionally. 
It's like the 30 book thing. Her book says 30 books is the right number for HER. If 5,000 is books is the right number for you; that's good- as long as that is intentional.

In her google talk someone asked her about someone who collects something and how his collection is tidy, and how should he get rid to have less. She answers essentially, if he is happy with what he has, he shouldn't get rid of it.

It's not about getting rid of stuff for the sake of getting rid of it. It's not about owning as little as possible.  It's about owning things intentionally and not letting junk over take your life. 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 08:26:21 AM by I'm a red panda »

Dabnasty

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2019, 08:22:27 AM »
At the risk of getting repetitive, I also don't think it's about minimalism. Although there's significant overlap between her ideas and the ideas espoused by minimalists, the drive to reduce possessions isn't one of them. I've only watched a few pieces of the show, but the idea I took away from the book was more about appreciating your possessions and keeping them as a part of your life. Touching, seeing, and occasionally even talking to your possessions were at the core of her philosophy.

From what I've seen of the show, I can see how this may be missed. Like others have said, the train wreck messy houses are what people want to see, then add in the language barrier, and the show largely misses the point.

Regarding the "spark joy" concept, I believe she specifically says in the book that it doesn't apply to most practical items. If your tools and kitchen utensils and your winter coat don't spark joy you can still keep them. It only applies to things like clothes and toys.


Cassie

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2019, 11:03:46 AM »
I have been downsizing for years. I enjoyed her book and it did make me more ruthless. I have a walk in closet so hang many things because my drawers are limited. I donít dump everything on the bed but go room by room.  I also got rid of collections I had which no longer brought joy such as Hummels and porcelain dolls.  I donated them to fundraisers for silent auction items and they always made money on them.  I am enjoying having less items to dust and cleaning is much faster.  I donít want to leave a bunch of stuff behind for my kids to deal with. The Swedish call it death cleansing:))

Cassie

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2019, 06:46:35 PM »
I like to have enough clothes that I am not washing clothes all the time.  The Japanese live in small apartments so probably more of a challenge for families to stay organized.

Blueberries

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Re: Prof on KonMarie, minimalism and consumer culture
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2019, 09:27:40 AM »
Marie Kondo isn't a minimalist at all; well maybe she is- but she doesn't think everyone should be.  She's about owning things intentionally. 
It's like the 30 book thing. Her book says 30 books is the right number for HER. If 5,000 is books is the right number for you; that's good- as long as that is intentional.

In her google talk someone asked her about someone who collects something and how his collection is tidy, and how should he get rid to have less. She answers essentially, if he is happy with what he has, he shouldn't get rid of it.

It's not about getting rid of stuff for the sake of getting rid of it. It's not about owning as little as possible.  It's about owning things intentionally and not letting junk over take your life.

This was my takeaway.