Guest Post: Is Anybody Else Tired Of Buying And Owning Stuff?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Is Anybody Else Tired Of Buying And Owning Stuff?

We are suffocating in stuff, physically, psychologically and spiritually.

I know this is a sacrilegious question, but is anybody else tired of buying and owning stuff? Is anybody else tired of dealing with all the junk cluttering up every corner of the room/house/nation?

Has anyone else noticed we have surplus stuff coming out our ears? And that therefore we don't really need any more stuff? Has anyone noticed the psychological consequences of constantly buying and managing possessions? Here is how correspondent B.D. recently put it:

Kids have a melt-down when they don't have the latest iteration of the (insert trendy electronica here) or if they are asked to tidy up the gargantuan collection of "stuff" they are slowly suffocating themselves with. Most kids these days don't have bedrooms anymore ... they have a small warehouse of goods in which they have a sleeping space.

Everybody has a warehouse of goods, even "poor" households. Of the four households on my block with one-car garages, we're the only ones who actually park a car in the garage. Everyone else's garage is jammed with stuff. And this is not an upscale neighborhood, it's working-class/renters.

Have you been to one of the many gigantic swap meets recently? You know, the kind with hundreds of sellers hawking everything under the sun. Our young friends (newlyweds renting one bedroom in a house, they don't own a car, both seeking fulltime work but currently living on one-part time job) recently described their visit to just such a sprawling cornucopia of over-consumption.

People are selling any and everything to raise some cash: birds, snakes, used iPhones, laptop computers, clothing, furniture, you name it. A guy was selling a guitar for $15. Our friend offered $5. The seller took $8. $8 for an acoustic guitar. Granted it was a cheap one, but $8? Was it even worth hauling it to the swap meet for $8? A set of strings costs $4.

"Almost new" bicycles--again, cheap, poor-quality versions--were being sold for $35. You can't even buy a replacement bicycle wheel for $35.

Were these stolen goods? Our friend asked the seller how he could sell bikes for so little money. The seller replied that he buys the contents of abandoned storage lockers for a few dollars and then sells the contents. (Apparently there is a reality TV show based on this process of acquiring the contents of abandoned storage lockers.)

This raises an interesting question: why bother stealing stuff when it is basically worthless? Smash-and-grab burglars are only stealing electronics (and jewelry if it is laying around in plain sight). Nothing else is worth stealing. Bicycle thieves abound, of course, but they're picky as well: a rusty made-in-China bike with a cheap (and easily snipped) cable lock will be left untouched; only the expensive bikes will be ripped off.

As I keep saying: what's scarce is not stuff, it's cash and reliable income streams. People are trying to convert stuff into cash, but it's tough because there is a surplus of stuff.

No wonder organizations that promote giving stuff away such as are so popular. People are giving up trying to get any cash at all for old TVs, etc.; they are delighted if someone hauls it away for free.

Is anyone else sick of the "buying experience"? No wonder online buying has become so ubiquitous--the experience of shopping to acquire stuff is a form of torture, at least to some of us. Getting there is a nightmare (unless I can bike to the store), parking is a hassle, clerks generally don't know much, and the selection is often limited or skewed to the high end. The "fun" is in leaving empty-handed.

I suppose other people can't wait to get a new mobile phone; I live in dread that my old "dumb" phone will expire and force me into buying another one. Ditto for everything else we own.

There is so much stuff floating around America that we end up with stuff we didn't buy or even ask for--old laptops, bicycles (abandoned on our property, left by neighbors moving away, left to us by elderly neighbors who passed on, etc.) and clothing, to mention but a few of of the things that we have "inherited."

I make a point to be a "good citizen" by taking outdated printers, modems and other electronics to the recycling yard; others aren't so civic-minded, as proven by the piles of high-tech detritus that litter street corners and dumpsites around the nation.

When the university students leave town in May, dumpster after dumpster is filled with broken Ikea furniture and old mattresses, many of recent vintage. It isn't worth hauling any of it home. They will buy more future-landfill at Ikea when they settle down somewhere else.

My new mantra is "please don't give us anything we won't consume in a few days." What with all the insecurity in the world, a lot of people have assembled stashes of precious metals. Quite frankly, I don't want physical wealth I have to store, manage, protect, etc. I am not at all sure I want any "wealth" at all other than the "wealth" of productive land, a functioning infrastructure / civil society, and the "wealth" of freedom of movement and choice.

I just want to get rid of stuff, not acquire more. I welcome the digital age because "entertainment" no longer requires physical collections. I have already accepted that most digital stuff will be lost with time, just like physical stuff. Who wants to lug around 50 years of digital files? Yes, it might fit on a small drive, but who will sort through it all or even look at it/listen to it?

The clutter of all this stuff, physical and digital, clouds the mind and spirit. I think it was Sartre who noted that our possessions own us, not the other way around. I am tired of being possessed by possessions, of any kind or nature. I would be delighted if the can of WD-40 in the toolshed lasts the rest of my life. If it doesn't, then I will replace it, grudgingly.

More than likely, I will find an almost-full can in somebody's trash, along with everything else anyone could possibly want. The only thing missing from sorting through all that's been abandoned is the drug-like "hit" of the purchase. Sadly for a consumerist society, some of us are immune to that potent drug.

Many others will suffer consumerist withdrawals as the cash and credit needed to complete the purchase become increasingly scarce.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
goldfreak's picture

sick; just go to the home of a family with a couple of kids and there are mountains of useless toys

francis_sawyer's picture

 "The things you own end up owning you"


Tyler Durden

HungrySeagull's picture

And draining your future dry with the endless labor in vain to clear it out.


Then you get tired.


Then you become a reality show on hoarding.

doomandbloom's picture

no stuff, no jobs....


...need more jobs...doing random stuff..

Surly Bear's picture

What the fuck is this shit? Am I tired of owning stuff? Fuck no, I don't own anything now. I have some money...I keep it in a jar above my fridge...I want more, and that's where you come in....'s picture

At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house. I have thus surveyed the country on every side within a dozen miles of where I live. In imagination I have bought all the farms in succession, for all were to be bought, and I knew their price. I walked over each farmer's premises, tasted his wild apples, discoursed on husbandry with him, took his farm at his price, at any price, mortgaging it to him in my mind; even put a higher price on it—took everything but a deed of it—took his word for his deed, for I dearly love to talk—cultivated it, and him too to some extent, I trust, and withdrew when I had enjoyed it long enough, leaving him to carry it on. This experience entitled me to be regarded as a sort of real-estate broker by my friends. Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat?—better if a country seat. I discovered many a site for a house not likely to be soon improved, which some might have thought too far from the village, but to my eyes the village was too far from it. Well, there I might live, I said; and there I did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how I could let the years run off, buffet the winter through, and see the spring come in. The future inhabitants of this region, wherever they may place their houses, may be sure that they have been anticipated. An afternoon sufficed to lay out the land into orchard, wood-lot, and pasture, and to decide what fine oaks or pines should be left to stand before the door, and whence each blasted tree could be seen to the best advantage; and then I let it lie, fallow, perchance, for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

My imagination carried me so far that I even had the refusal of several farms—the refusal was all I wanted—but I never got my fingers burned by actual possession. The nearest that I came to actual possession was when I bought the Hollowell place, and had begun to sort my seeds, and collected materials with which to make a wheelbarrow to carry it on or off with; but before the owner gave me a deed of it, his wife—every man has such a wife—changed her mind and wished to keep it, and he offered me ten dollars to release him. Now, to speak the truth, I had but ten cents in the world, and it surpassed my arithmetic to tell, if I was that man who had ten cents, or who had a farm, or ten dollars, or all together. However, I let him keep the ten dollars and the farm too, for I had carried it far enough; or rather, to be generous, I sold him the farm for just what I gave for it, and, as he was not a rich man, made him a present of ten dollars, and still had my ten cents, and seeds, and materials for a wheelbarrow left. I found thus that I had been a rich man without any damage to my poverty. But I retained the landscape, and I have since annually carried off what it yielded without a wheelbarrow. With respect to landscapes,

"I am monarch of all I survey, My right there is none to dispute."

I have frequently seen a poet withdraw, having enjoyed the most valuable part of a farm, while the crusty farmer supposed that he had got a few wild apples only. Why, the owner does not know it for many years when a poet has put his farm in rhyme, the most admirable kind of invisible fence, has fairly impounded it, milked it, skimmed it, and got all the cream, and left the farmer only the skimmed milk.


Thoreau's Walden

Badabing's picture

 “a rusty made-in-China bike with a cheap (and easily snipped) cable lock will be left untouched; only the expensive bikes will be ripped off.”

So true,

I ride a bike to work in Manhattan and had two nice mountain bikes ripped off. Now I ride a lady Schwinn from the 60s it looks like a real fag bike. Now no one touches it and it has no top bar to hurt my mangina!  


Michael's picture

When the USA gets cut off from trade with the rest of the planet because of national debt default, we'll still have a 5 -10 year supply of Chinese shit to buy an sell on Craigslist and Ebay.

I told my friends before the dotcom bubble bust, storage unit construction will be big business, and before the housing bubble bust, people who lose their homes to foreclosure will need all that storage space.

Now, no problem.

AldousHuxley's picture

Americans pay to rent storage space to store all their junk.


go drive to a poorer area of the town and you will see quick cash, dollar stores, tattoo parlors and storage spaces.






redpill's picture

I fucking hate shopping.  I'd rather spend the money on a massage.  I could throw 3/4s of the shit in my house in the garbage tomorrow and not miss it a bit.  And then there's the kids toys....arrrggghh grandparents constantly giving them big bulky plastic shit.


Anyway, there is a solution to this.  Repeal the 16th amendment and replace the income tax with a revenue-neutral consumption tax on new retail goods and services.  Poor people can save money buy buying things second hand.  People would save more, and think more before they consume because they would have a choice in how and where they would pay tax.  They would take better care of things and sell them to others who would take better care of them.  People would be rewarded for saving, and punished for being wasteful.  It would not only help solve our addicted-to-Chinese-crap problem, it would be a boon for our economy to have more savers.

recidivist's picture

The last thing worth owning sold in March, 2012: The yin and yang coffee table from Fight Club

Thomas's picture

I don't own anything, save a lot, but do get a little testy watching my wife collect detritus.

Element's picture

Notice how when you go to do the groceries now there's always someone who's set-up a stall near the door, to intercept you on the way in, or on the way out, and they always try to grab your eye with a fake smile and greeting to try and engage you.  To give them money for something of other, or for a raffle, or to buy a pay-TV contract ... of all things ... it's just disMall ...

Son of Loki's picture

one...more...iPad....only one...PLEEEEEZZZEEE !


Ahmeexnal's picture

I make a point to be a "good citizen" by taking outdated printers, modems and other electronics to the recycling yard

That's a load of crap.  That's what the power elite want: SHEEPLE, PLEASE GIVE US YOUR GOLD FOR FREE.

Those "outdated" electronics have some serious gold on them.  Why?? BECAUSE GOLD WAS A LOT CHEAPER BACK THEN.

The next thing you know, the fascist "eco-friendly" police state will determine that silver and gold are "hazardous to the environment" and politely ask SHEEPLE to deposit all of their PM's into HAZMAT recycling bins....


Silver – a toxic threat to our
health and environment

By none other by socialist swedish uppsala crappersity acting as a peon of the EU fourth reich!


AlaricBalth's picture

Come on people. Just take your Soma (or whichever prescribed psychotropic drug you have had chosen for you) and let the "weath effect" wash over you like a warm summer rain. Watch television and allow the Bernaysian reflex to permeate into your mind as you feel the need to consume. Get out there and spend, spend, spend. Your protector, the government, will give you a safety net and provide for all of your basic needs. All you are required to do is desire and covet that which the plutocracy directs you to. 

FEDbuster's picture

77 days till "Black Friday", ROTFLMAO.

Looking forward to this year's "shopping death count".

Festivus for the rest of us!

AldousHuxley's picture

Tired of overpaying for cheap chinese slave wage made shit and owning it until shit breaks down 1 day after warranty period.


black friday = defective shit on sale



greenEagles's picture

After my freshman year of college finished up I stuck around for a few days moving my things from my dorm to an offsite apartment.  The amount of stuff left cluttering dormitory halls was unbelievable.  Stuff so cheap that it was easier to throw it away and buy new then to haul it back and forth for the next semester.  I ended up scoring a brand new couch and a brand new backpack with a brand new camera inside, mistakenly left behind no doubt.  The future of America will look entirly different then the one we currently inhabit.  The miles and miles of shopping centers hawking imported consumer goods will eventually be replaced by miles of flea markets, swap meets and second hand stores.  Americans will not be able to afford new imported goods.

NotApplicable's picture

Garage Sale Nation! Get your barter on.

Here in my large college town, at semester's end you could move into an apartment with no furnishings, and easily fill it just by watching the dumpsters as the stupids go home for the summer. (been there, done that)

FEDbuster's picture

The "Craigslist Index" will be a hot new American economic indicator.  Gotta love the "curb alerts" on Craigslist, "come and get this crap out of here" at it's finest. 

Our dump transfer site has a "no scavenging" policy.  They have employed a couple of guys to do all the scavenging on behalf of the dump, they grab anything of value to be recycled. 

Cranios's picture

You have a fridge... and a jar...

A Nanny Moose's picture


"A house is a place to keep your stuff, while you go out and get....more stuff" - George Carlin.

SWRichmond's picture

The clutter of all this stuff, physical and digital, clouds the mind and spirit. I think it was Sartre who noted that our possessions own us, not the other way around.

Amen, brother.  Though Sartre was a douchbag, right along with that crazy bitch DeBeauvoir.

Totentänzerlied's picture

Name a single French philosopher who wasn't a douchebag; Camus doesn't count, he was pied-noir. All the way back to Descartes, a progression of ever more entertaining douchebags.

midtowng's picture

I long ago figured out that I got more joy out of getting rid of things I didn't need, than getting things I didn't need.

midtowng's picture

I'm currently living in an extremely poor community in the Dominican Republic.

No one has anything worth stealing here.

It's interesting to see the kids make little toy cars that they haul around on a string from an old, empty plastic oil bottle, a couple wires, and some soda pop tops for wheels.

It didn't cost the kids anything. Just some time.

11b40's picture

Just some, they probably worked together to MAKE their toys, learning and socializing along the way.  At the end of the day, they have had more fun than the kid who was handed a new game boy by the parent who uses "things" as a substitute for their time.

Pool Shark's picture




He who dies with the biggest pile, wins.



doomandbloom's picture

He who dies with the biggest debt, wins...

Pool Shark's picture



Jeez,... you guys have no sense of humor...



A Nanny Moose's picture

Hang around this rock forever? Be surrounded by mouth breathers forever. I'll pass.

Anglo Hondo's picture

He who dies with the biggest (anything), dies.

DCFusor's picture

He who has had the most fun, somehow won this game.  You guys had better start running if you wanna catch up to me.

johnQpublic's picture

on a long enuf timeline....



                              .....everything ends up in the craigslist 'free' section

Umh's picture

No need. Just set the broken crap out in the front yard with a cardboard for sale sign on it. Some low life will carry it away for you.

WillyGroper's picture

ROFLMAO-----so true, did it with a desk.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Pretty smart of that "low-life" to have obtained for free, that which you paid for, and are now giving away.

TruthHunter's picture

Uhuh, He who dies....wins?


Not for a Post Secular Modern

Anusocracy's picture

Save your energy.

Boycott the Christmas buying season.

glenlloyd's picture

The whole consumption thing is draining. The stuff all requires so much maintenance and responsibility. Insure this, lock up that so no one steals it etc etc.

I've been divesting of stuff for a couple years now, slowly and methodically clearing out to get out from under all the responsibility.

In a way I feel the same way about (the fallacy of) home ownership and the NAR propaganda about it. Better to be light and mobile in the future IMO. A house can be taxed to death...generally supports the idea that you didn't really 'own' it to begin with.

If someone wants to buy something I have I generally don't argue much about it, or what they want to spend, most likely it was going to the trash anyway. Productive tools are a different story however.

Looking back, the whole buying just to be buying era was a huge mis-allocation of scarce resources...

Cathartes Aura's picture

Looking back, the whole buying just to be buying era was a huge mis-allocation of scarce resources...

. . . like brain cells. . .

re-cycle, up-cycle, borrow tools with care, loan time with respect, share.

and realise how much time in your life is saved when you don't chase the products they prod you with.

MBOB's picture

A few years volunteering in our storefront church's thrift shop has cured me forever of acquiring more stuff. Most of the intake is barely used. A lot of it is from recently dead people. 

Now I cherish more the moments I still have while alive. Loved ones, friends, pets all get first priority. 

Pyramids as storage units for the afterlife went out of favor long ago.