Buying Stuff and Doing Things

According to numerous articles, that I cannot reference simply out of laziness, my generation (millennials) are disrupting many a status quo. Allow me to take a big assumption, that anyone reading this is somewhat familiar with the millennial discussion, and dive straight into my thought. They say, millennials are less interested in buying “things” and more interested in experiences. For example, a millennial would rather go on a trip than buy an expensive TV. I find myself living this trope, but what I struggle with is whether this lifestyle commoditizes life experiences.

The clear irony is that this logic holds up for buying “stuff”. Humans buy clothes, home decor, or cars to define themselves as individuals and support their ego. These is no judgement from me, I do this too. However, as people buy more “stuff” the less individualistic it becomes. Once everyone buys the limited edition Nikes, they simply become…Nikes.  What once made us unique is now making us the same.

International travel, luxurious resorts, and attending exotic festivals were once regarded as “rare occasions”. My observation is that participation in these activities is on the rise. I will note to leave my privilege and socioeconomic status checked at the door.  My un-researched assumptions are that technology, reduction in travel cost, and simple economics are the reason for this. People have high demand for “experiences” so the market is building its supply, thus making them more accessible. I state and ponder all this to ask; “does this lessen the experience?”.

The ego monsters we become, which is indeed the “human experience”, would probably say yes. If everyone can and does something than it loses its luster. I call bullshit though. An experience is exactly that, an experience. It is a sensation, an emotion; it is by definition a personal reaction. If I want to visit a National Park to camp and hike, good for me. If you want to stay in a cabin, soak in the nature, and eat in a restaurant, well bully for you! Who is to say there is a right way to experience something? At the end of the day, we are both paying our respects to our great parks and sharing their wonder with the world.

This shift in priorities has its drawbacks. There are stories of disease outbreaks at festivals and overcrowding at National Parks. I think, and hope, these are growing pains. It appears we are no longer content sitting in perfectly manicured houses tuning in to “must see tv”. We will adapt ourselves as we move to change the world. I hope my children are able to see double the amount I am. My only call to action is this: if you are living for experiences, make sure you are truly experiencing them. Go see that waterfall, take the picture, than set down you camera and just breathe in the moment while you can.

One Reply to “Buying Stuff and Doing Things”

  1. I love this idea of experience over consumerism. I bet the carbon footprint is less when you’re not buying a consumable that will eventually end up in a landfill. Totally agree that the phone can be a distractor for the experience. Listen breathe experience.


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