March 1st, 2018
We are constantly told that we have too much stuff, and even though in the West we are experiencing the highest standard of living in history, we are always on the hunt for more. We may all know too well that feeling of having a wardrobe full of clothes yet never having anything to wear. So where did our love of stuff come from?
Shopping in its inception, introduced the freedom of choice and a way of expressing yourself into the mainstream. Before, way back when, people had next to nothing (apart from the very wealthy), so the few belongings that they did have really mattered. When shopping was introduced to the masses, there was an emancipation from restrictive social and economic norms, so really, materialism started on a positive note. However, with this newfound pastime of shopping, our need for things, our desire to accumulate, keep, have and hold began. But, today, now we’ve got everything that anyone could possibly want, none of it is supposed to matter?
Technically, we don’t really need any of these things, this stuff, in order to survive. We’re all meant to be able live on love, laughter and happiness and to never give a second’s thought to the clothes on our backs or the objects in our homes, as stuff isn’t supposed to matter…but I say sometimes stuff does matter.
Stuff makes life easier, stuff makes life more efficient, and stuff definitely makes life better.
The perfect example of this is technology. Just think, where would we be without our phones (yes, even these incredible inventions count as stuff). They have transformed our lives; changing how we communicate, organise ourselves, document our lives, think and even live.
I am not by any means saying we all need to get online or go out and buy more things, as I think we are all too aware of the effects consumerism has on global warming, but I am saying if we look at some of the things we do have, they are a reflection of ourselves. A reflection of the lives we live, a reflection of our choices and a reflection of the memories that we have made with them.
Stuff does start as just stuff – in a warehouse, on a shelf, in a shop, it doesn’t mean anything. But once we choose it, it becomes someone’s, it becomes yours and it becomes something. It becomes that reflection of ourselves, it becomes the marks we make in the world.
Speaking for us, our possessions can transcend the material. Think of anyone you know, past or present and as well as your memories with them, I bet you think of the clothes they were wearing, the furniture in their house or even the books they were reading. I know with my Nan, I think of Rowntrees fruit pastilles, her horrendously garish (and quite frankly, hideous) red and green carpet, her gold earrings and her ruby ring; and for me, all these things said so much about her.
It’s up to us as marketers and advertisers to sell this to the buyer. It’s up to us to give stuff meaning. It’s not just about making money, it’s about finding that deeper purpose, it’s about finding the heart, and making it beat. We want the stuff that we sell, to be the stuff with meaning.
Yes, often the best things in life do come free, and maybe we do all need to declutter our life a little bit, but before we all send everything to the charity shop or list it on eBay; some stuff does matter. We can’t bottle up a sunset, hold onto laughter or hang on to the smell of your mother’s perfume; but we can keep a shell, a photo and a bottle. These are the memories, stories and reflections of ourselves told in objects and artefacts. These are the moments that make up who we are. These are the things that say stuff does matter.