If you look through forums about minimalism, one thing you'll often see in the comment section is people arguing about what the definition of minimalism should be. There’ll be a discussion about a song, a book cover, a piece of modern art and someone’ll say it:
- “This isn’t minimalism.”
- “Dude, you couldn’t even clean your place before taking the photo? What's with all the shit?
- “I don’t understand the appeal of minimalism these days. We’re supposed to get rid of all our stuff and live in a cardboard box now?”
And so, the argument begins.
On one hand, you have the die-hards. They live in their car or their van, they don’t have the latest iPhone. They bus to work or they don’t work at all. When they come to visit you for the week, their entire existence fits in a backpack or a duffel bag, and when you hand them a blanket, they don’t use it. They sleep under the stars.
And then there are the ‘casual’ fans of minimalism. They might like the idea of an art style based on solid colours, bold lines and efficient use of space, but their room is a mess. People tell them their basement is full of ‘junk’. What we have is a modern-day hippie crisis on our hands. There’s a civil war between people that like different flavours of the same philosophy and nobody’s wrong.
Here’s a case study: one of these individuals makes a Reddit post. It’s a view of their bedroom, and the only items in the room are their bed, their computer desk, laptop, mouse, keyboard and a few other items. We'll say figurines. The floors are spotless.
To some, the figurines are the make or break. They’ll say: “If this was my room, I’d get rid of them. It’s an expensive hobby and I want the shelf space for something else.”
This is where you have to make a decision. Minimalism is more than a dictionary definition. It’s about asking yourself the right questions. Can I save a few bucks if I buy in bulk? If I move some stuff around in my dad’s garage, will he have more space for his tools? My room isn’t very friendly or inviting, and it’s not a great study spot. Can I change that somehow?
Personally, I’d get rid of the figurines. They’re not me. I’d probably put some books on the shelf, and if you disagree with that – if you disagree with both – that’s totally fine.
Do what’s best for you.
And remember, it’s called minimalism for a reason. Don’t sweat it so much.
Colin Baines is a sloth masquerading as a human being in Algonquin College's two-year professional writing program. He eats a lot of vegetables, tries not to swear during class, doesn't own a phone and will often write articles loosely based on minimalism, nature, fitness, film, art, music, etc.