We have been looking for a new desk chair for about a year…
The thing was that we couldn’t commit to one, they were either not the right colour, too hard, too soft, or not the right shape at all. Pre minimalism I would have bought one, any one, just to have a chair (we are currently using the kids chairs when we need them!) But I knew better and so I waited and waited and I waited some more.
I searched the shops, I searched online. I even bought one and sent it back, none of them were right. I started to wonder if maybe me and my desk were meant to be chair less after all. However, while searching online one day I came across a chair. It was of vintage style, with a woven seat, a mixture of walnut wood and brown. It made me stop, it made me stare, could this be the very chair?! I added it to my basket and closed the tab. I wasn’t in the habit anymore of buying something as soon as I saw it anymore, preferring to stick to the thirty day rule.
The thirty day rule has saved me many times! It is the idea that you wait thirty days after seeing something you want, instead of falling into the trap of an impulse buy. That way you can decide whether you really want it at all. Generally speaking between day one and day thirty, the want for the thing will wane and by day thirty you probably won’t remember it at all. Once in a while the thing I want will exceed the thirty days and so maybe I will buy it, knowing that it’s something I really want and need.
Anyway. There I was minding my own business, proud of myself for closing the tab when the same chair popped up in my social media feed. That’s funny or creepy I thought but hmmm, I really liked the chair. I think that if I’d seen the chair in a shop, with my own eyes, I would have bought it regardless of the rule. But because I couldn’t do this, I remained cautious and unsure.
The next day I was scrolling through social media, clicking on this thing and that thing, when the chair popped up again. '“Buy me” it whispered, buy me was it’s plea. So my phone/algorithm and been watching me again, deliberating placing this chair in my way but not today consumerism, not today.
During the next thirty days, the walnut chair passed my eyes numerous times a day. So many that I lost count after ten. So many, that even if I had truthfully forgotten about the chair during the thirty day rule, the powers of the internet wouldn’t let me. It stalked me, it annoyed me and still I ignored its plea.
I was determined now not to buy the chair even if I wanted it. I wasn’t fooled and was sure that some ploy for me to buy it was underway. Yet around day twenty three I started to get worn down, the more I saw it, the more my brain wanted it, it was a gorgeous chair after all. It was taunting me, calling me and I started to want it more.
I wasn’t happy with this outcome because even though I think I would have been more than happy with the chair, I knew I wasn’t completely of sound mind. It no longer felt like completely my decision, I felt like a pawn in a consumerists game and marketing was pulling my strings. I knew that this was consumerism at its best and after three years of minimalism, I decided I wanted to know more.
I wanted to know how and why we get lured into buying something, even if we aren’t really sure. The big sales that aren’t really big sales at all, the brand logos etched in our brains, the retail industry basically acting like Black Friday every day. And these advertesments aren’t only on the television, or on billboards, or in magazines anymore, they are now at our fingertips, 24 hours a day.
Studies show that in the UK alone we see around 2,500 adverts a day. And as a general rule, we, the consumers, need to see something seven times before we buy.. We are bombarded from all angles that we need to buy more and you only have to look at Instagram to know this to be true. The monochrome and now neutral home (guilty…) that we see in every square. The beautiful polkadot dress that goes viral and the rug that has an instagram account of its own (still guilty) And this stuff can be good, it’s inspiration, it’s beautiful, it’s well reviewed, it makes us feel like we belong. But it’s rarely organically sold, rather a clever tact to make us want more.
And whether you believe this to be true or not, or whether you even care, it is manipulative, it is intrusive and it is quite literally everywhere. It seeps into our longing to belong, to be liked, to be cool. It preys on our insecurities that we are not enough and on our mindsets, of wanting and needing more.
So for now, I haven't succumbed to the walnut chair and we remain chair less. Because although most of me wants it, my stubbornness won’t comply. I don’t wish for consumerism to win this one, not yet anyway! I want to not see the chair for thirty days or more. I want it to be on my mind on my own terms and not because I’m seeing it everywhere instead.
And that’s not to say that I wont buy the chair, it is lovey after all. But I’ve been conditioned to like it more by adverts and that’s not okay with me. So for today I say no to consumerist tactics and take my place, once again, on the floor.
Have you seen this pattern emerging on social media, with things you’ve liked or wanted, if so I’d love to hear more?!