Minimalism and Me

Minimalism and Me

I was not raised as a minimalist. My mom had a mild condition of hoarder syndrome, which she fueled into collecting soaps (you know, bars of soap) and romance novels by the thousands – not exaggerating. My toy collection included almost every McDonald’s Happy Meal figurine, and I was the expert on my block when it came to niche flavors of sugary soda. Jolt? Over it.

But I shouldn’t place all the blame on my on my mom. It was the era of max-customization, when marketers were trying their darndest to balloon brands out into twenty sub-brands that could express the total uniqueness of YOU. This culture hasn’t exactly gone away – which flavor of Orbit gum do you like best? Tropical Remix? Maui Melon Mint?

Despite my upbringing, it has recently occurred to me that I’m becoming more and more of a minimalist. When I write for The Tangential, I actively try to have the lowest amount of words possible, thinking of the surplus of other information people on the Internet are eager to get out and read. This extends beyond writing and into design. After working at a somewhat hip marketing firm for a year, I’ve seen how professionals prefer minimalism. Flat colors. Grid layouts. White space. Take your drop shadows back to the early 2000‘s. That kind of design makes it easier to set the agenda of focus, curating the highlighted content to just the most engaging, timely and interesting of ideas – and to point the eye there without wasting its time.

People like to say that minimalism is difficult because it takes restraint and self-editing. But I grew up with a whole succession of art teachers telling me “art is never finished.” To me, the pressure to always add more is a lot more extreme.

I think our trend toward minimalism separates us from the baby boomers. Consuming gas and corn syrup like crazy, they enjoyed a bygone innocence when it came to resource availability. Those days are over. When we create something, we have to conserve our time creating it while trying just as hard to conserve the time it takes to consume it.

To me, this system is a relief. Minimalist work is easier to create, and it’s nice to know it’s easier to consume. So, am I also a minimalist with my possessions? Working on it. Just look at my pantry for evidence.

Becky Lang prefers Sweet Mint Orbit gum