It’s true that I might too often make minimalism seem like it’s all roses, all upside. But there is a downside to everything, including minimalism.
In order to better prepare you, my lovely and good-hearted reader, for minimalism, it’s my duty to point out some of the downsides. Consider this post my due diligence.
Some downsides to minimalism:You get to know Craigslist, Goodwill and other charities all too well as you clean out your clutter. You have to figure out other things to do with yourself besides shopping and browsing shopping sites. If you travel lightly for a few weeks with only a small carry-on, customs officers might get suspicious — who travels with almost nothing, besides maybe a terrorist? My friends Corbett Barr and his wife Jessie recently had this experience going into Europe with a small bag each — officials didn’t believe they were really traveling for three weeks without luggage. People will tease you about which of your two shirts you’re wearing today. I don’t mind this — there are worse things to be teased about. If you are a well known minimalist and happen to shop at the Gap or the Apple store, you worry that people will see you and judge you for hypocrisy. If you give up your cable TV, you have to find other things to do. I like to read or exercise. Also, you aren’t aware of non-Internet pop culture — I had to Google Jwow recently (didn’t know who she was) and was shocked at how much I’ve apparently been missing. Family will harass you about not buying gifts. They will live. So will you. You don’t get as good a workout walking around with a light bag instead of one laden with lots of stuff. I put weight plates in my backpack if I want to compensate for this. People online will accuse you of being “trendy” because you’re a minimalist. People who aren’t online as much will wonder what the hell a minimalist is. Your one pair of jeans will go from being dark and dressy to faded, frayed, and more welcome in an Occupy camp than in nice restaurants. When family comes to visit, you’ll be confused as to why they have so much stuff with them, even if they’re just there to visit for a few hours. When you go to other people’s houses, you might start mentally fantasizing about getting rid of their stuff for them. People will ask you, almost non-stop, how you can be a minimalist with so many kids. If you don’t have any kids, they’ll roll your eyes and say, “Of course you’re a minimalist — you’re a bachelor!” People will always, always try to point out the hypocrisy of being a minimalist and something else about you — your articles are too long to be a minimalist! You have 25 books — that’s not minimalist! Etc. Others might feel threatened by you, because your minimalism will be seen as a criticism of their lifestyle. They will live. You will get weird looks when you turn down free “schwag” at sporting events, conferences, parties. Who doesn’t want a bunch of free promotional junk? People will give you pitying looks when they see you have a simple dumb phone, and can’t play Angry Birds or use Instagram on the train like they can. If you don’t have a car, people will think you’re poor, even if you are wealthier for not having the car. And healthier, and time rich.