For some people, minimalism is a life-style. Everything that comes into the house is evaluated for worth, and will soon exit the house if it doesn’t meet standards. Perhaps they don’t keep the house spotlessly clean, but they don’t have tons of stuff collecting dust and they truly enjoy the possessions they have.
For other people, minimalism is a fad. They decorate in black-and-white, get rid of a bookshelf of old books and knick-knacks, and proclaim themselves minimalists. A few posts on Instagram of their brand new image, and then they lose interest. The slim new couch ends up in a back corner of the basement, next to those striking but impractical bookshelves that aren’t quite tall enough for books. The next fad comes in and minimalism is forgotten.
But there are some people who engage in drive-in minimalism. There’s a thin line between minimalism as a fad and drive-in minimalism, but I think it’s an important line, because it lies close to the heart of life-style minimalism.
Drive-in minimalism is when someone hears about minimalism, takes the time to act on what they’ve heard, then moves on without looking back. This is very similar to fad minimalism in that it only lasts for a short time, but the difference is in the intent.
Fad minimalism is a style choice, an influence choice. Minimalists are powerful because they are deliberately choosing a form of hardship (an extremely mild form of hardship, but nonetheless hardship to most people). A fad minimalist wants to cash in on this power, so they adopt the stance of the minimalist. They probably reduce some clutter and almost certainly redecorate, but once they have the cred, they lose interest in the “hard” part.
Drive-in minimalism is a life choice, though it’s momentary. They realize what minimalism offers in removing clutter from body and mind. They act on this realization, reduce the noise in their life, then move on. This moving on isn’t because they lose interest. It’s because they got what they wanted. Life is a little simpler because they don’t have those ugly watercolor paintings from Aunt Edith making them feel guilty every time they see them in the closet. Minimalism worked for the drive-in minimalist. They don’t need more than that.
And this is all perfectly fine! I could rant at fad minimalists for jumping on a bandwagon without really embracing the movement, but I don’t need to. I could call out the drive-in minimalists since they don’t follow through on the movement, but I don’t need to. Minimalism isn’t “better” than other ways of life. It’s a choice. I feel it helps me focus and enjoy life by removing distractions. But not everyone feels like that.
Minimalists can get our heads stuck in our own little world of simplicity, looking down our noses at those who have houses crammed with “junk”. But minimalism isn’t about the “junk”, it’s about people. Love people, use things. If your lack of things is getting in the way of loving people, minimalism is not for you. Stop being minimalist.
I mean it. Stop being minimalist. It’s not for you.
Only take up the true minimalist lifestyle if it helps you love people. That’s all it’s good for.