Minimalism, like any other lifestyle choice, can have its own set of pros and cons. While minimalism can bring many benefits such as less stress, increased productivity, and improved well-being, it can also have a negative side. Explore further the dark side of minimalism to decide if becoming a minimalist is right for you.
Remember, don’t judge any group of people by the actions of its most fringe members. By some estimates there are altogether over thirty million minimalists in America already. Certainly, among a group that large, there will be some odd implementations of the principles.
Convert or Shame
Without a doubt the biggest dark side of minimalism are followers that demand conformity or ridicule. Minimalism has risen to an almost religious adjacent organization. But, because there are no defining documents or central office, people can go rogue.
Surely no philosophy intended to bring calm and purpose to someone’s life should be used to spew anger at those who are not minimalists. Even though I’m a minimalist coach and have turned minimalism into a career, I can accept that some people just aren’t capable of straying from social norms.
In my role as a minimalism advocate, I try to educate people and empower them to make the leap towards this lifestyle on their own. That is all I can do. We don’t run a cult and showing someone how to embrace minimalism doesn’t have a countdown clock. Let people come around on their own schedule or never at all, either should be fine by you.
Minimalism can be taken to an extreme, where individuals may feel the need to get rid of all their possessions. Questionable choices like re-using water from pasta noodles in your coffee pot of course causes raised eyebrows.
Some people have gamified minimalism to pride themselves on owning under a certain number of objects. A common point of pride is owning under 100 items. Most average people have no desire to push minimalism to that extreme, thus deterring them from even considering becoming a minimalist.
The worst part about a fringe faction of a much larger group is their virtue signaling. Extreme minimalists try to shame less strict minimalists as if they are not truly part of the minimalism culture. If there is a dark side of minimalism among extreme minimalists, it is those that seek to use their made up rules to divide the members.
As a person begins to adopt minimalism in their life they may feel strain on existing relationships. When one person in a friendship, family, or community starts evolving, that can be threatening to those that are not growing.
The newly conformed minimalist has the option to desperately cling to existing relationships or seek out a new circle. Adults often struggle to form new friendships outside their existing networks. Because of the anxiety surrounding new bonds this new lifestyle could cause someone to retreat into isolation.
People watching a new minimalist from the outside could view this behavior as rejecting societal norms and intentional withdrawal from society. People expect everyone to stay connected to their exiting networks, keep consuming at acceptable rates, and by all measures stay the same as they’ve always been. Any deviation from those behaviors can be very isolating without proper care to create new like minded friendships.
I hate to even think about the adults responsible for tiny humans who might use minimalism as an excuse to neglect them. Religious adults use their beliefs to withhold medical care. Cultural norms cause adults to physically harm their children. I can’t wrap my head around any of it.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that emphasizes reducing unnecessary things to focus on the important things. Stimulating a child’s mind and creativity through play are important factors of childhood. Children need to be fed, have a safe place to sleep, have adequate temperature, and load more to ensure proper development.
Parents can implement minimalism without neglecting their children by finding appropriate ways to balance posessions with purging. Parents often purchase pointless gadgets and useless gizmos, believing they need them. Make conscious consumer decisions about what items your child can live without.
If parents are using minimalism to neglect their children, that would be an extremely dark side of minimalism indeed.
Some may use minimalism as a cover for overspending. There is a tipping point where the quality of a handbag or shoe just doesn’t get any better. Just because you only purchase one $20,000 purse at a time doesn’t mean a purse that expensive is minimalist.
Kim Kardashian spent $23 million dollars creating an over the top minimalist mansion. She may be drawn to minimalist design aesthetics, but her consumer behavior may not align with minimalist principles.
Spending a lot on quality in the name of minimalism can border on toxic. Using minimalism as an excuse instead of as a path towards your goals misses the point. Minimalism seeks to shine a light on the important things in life, not on a specific color pallet exploding in your space.
Is There a Dark Side of Minimalism?
All things considered, while minimalism can be evoked as an excuse for less desirable behavior, it isn’t the core principles that are dark. Whenever nefarious actions are blamed on minimalism it is that individuals own intentions that caused that behavior. The generally accepted purpose of minimalism is positive and void of toxicity.