“What are you without your stuff?”
I heard this advertisement from Norton antivirus several months ago and I had to do a double take. They follow this question with, “Better yet, who are you?” The sad thing is this bullshit advertising blatantly voiced the subtle message we’re surrounded by every day. Isn’t that the main purpose of marketing? To convince us that we will be fulfilled and happier by purchasing certain products? We become engrossed in the images we see of thinner, younger, happier more successful people who already own these products. We’re convinced that investing our money in more things will somehow make us more like the cooler versions of ourselves we see on TV.
I had been making an effort to pay more attention to the subtle lies that reach our ears through media, sifting through to uncover the bottom line, noticing certain themes (good girls always go for bad boys, sex will sell just about anything, if it’s broken instead of fixing it just replace it), however Norton took the cake. For awhile I had this ad stuck to my fridge on a sticky note with the word LIES written underneath it. Every time I glanced at it I would shake my head in frustration.
Part of my frustration stems from the fact that I sometimes find myself believing that I am my stuff. I become attached to this idea of who I am and how I present myself to the world (I’ll admit, part of the reason I purchased this Mac was for the “cool” factor). As I make preparations to move out of my apartment a sense of panic sets in at the thought of being without my things arranged exactly how I like them, ready to use for my own convenience. I love my little apartment. I love sitting on my front porch and watching thunderstorms. I love the strawberry patch I’ve planted in the backyard, I love how close it is to everything I need. The thought of giving this up and packing my belongings into cardboard boxes does not place a skip in my step. It’s going to be really tough. But underneath the feelings of panic and uncertainty, there is a small sense of relief.
I know in my heart that I am more that the materials I own. I am more than the clothes on my back, the record on my record player, the photographs of memories. I hope that I won’t always have to go through such a dramatic change to realize this. For now, I am content to be without my stuff, to step outside of my comfort zone so that I may truly discover who I am in the absence of the things that clutter my life.Google+