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Paul Graham on stuff:

I have too much stuff. Most people in America do.[...]
Stuff is an extremely illiquid asset. Unless you have some plan for selling that valuable thing you got so cheaply, what difference does it make what it's "worth?" The only way you're ever going to extract any value from it is to use it. And if you don't have any immediate use for it, you probably never will.

Companies that sell stuff have spent huge sums training us to think stuff is still valuable. But it would be closer to the truth to treat stuff as worthless.

In fact, worse than worthless, because once you've accumulated a certain amount of stuff, it starts to own you rather than the other way around. I know of one couple who couldn't retire to the town they preferred because they couldn't afford a place there big enough for all their stuff. Their house isn't theirs; it's their stuff's.

And unless you're extremely organized, a house full of stuff can be very depressing. A cluttered room saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there's more going on than that. I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what's around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.

Amen, hallelujah, testify and beeeeeaar witness. I'm poorer than dirt right now, and I often feel like I'm drowning in stuff. Most of it is in disrepair and even the stuff that isn't is pretty damned worthless so selling it isn't a viable option. And the clutter often does seem to own me. So, if you'll excuse me, I'll be throwing out some stuff. (Via the sidebar on Making Light)


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