Monday, December 7, 2009

Hoarders: You can have too much stuff?

While flipping through channels recently, I stumbled past a truly bizarre and yet completely enthralling program entitled "Hoarders". Yup, it's a show about people with too much stuff. It follows the lives of compulsive hoarders, those who suffer from an inability to part with their belongings that is so out of control they are on the verge of a personal crisis.

The program raises questions about the nature of all our stuff. I began thinking about all the stuff I own and how important it is to me. My belongings all have personal meaning or use, and without them my home would feel empty, sterile and cold. They may just be objects, but you attach a certain idea or feeling with them, and together those ideas and feelings help cater to the creation of a home, or at least a place with some meaning to you. This is why model homes and condominiums seem to lack any feeling and come across as ‘unliveable’. But clearly from watching the show, people all have very different ideas about what is and isn’t valuable, and what is and isn’t a liveable space. While some can live in magazine perfect houses and feel at home, others need to be surrounded by their multitude of things in order to feel the same way. When does stuff become too much stuff?

Considering the consumer society we live in, aren’t we all actually hoarders? While we attribute meaning to our belongings, is that simply because we have let ourselves become convinced that we need and/or want it all? We can look around at all our worldly belongings and feel stifled and realize just how truly useless they are, but then turn around be reminded of how significant they all are and how fortunate we are to have them.

Happy Holidays everyone and enjoy all your new stuff.

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