Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Socioeconomics of Clutter

Maybe your personal space is cluttered because you just haven't had the time to declutter, but maybe there are deeper reasons. In the second of my guest blog posts, Justine Graykin, Writer and Freelance Philosopher, muses on the connection between clutter and socioeconomics.

The Socioeconomics of Clutter
by Justine Graykin

I have a theory: Clutter is directly related to how much money you have.

It's not that poorer folks are necessarily messier than rich folks.  It's just that they have a harder time throwing stuff away.  After all, you might need it.  It might be useful someday.  And you might not be able to afford a new one.

When money is less of an issue, you don't worry about throwing away something potentially useful.  You can always buy another.  And chances are, you have a bigger house anyway, with more places to store your stuff.  Including all your kids’ art projects and report cards, and your dad's collection of WWII memorabilia.  Run out of room?  No problem.  Get a storage unit.  Get two.  Get a second home to fill with the spillover from the first. 

Is your clutter getting disorganized?  Tired of dusting all those tchotchkes (I love that word!) that you've collected?   Hire somebody to take care of it all.  Or pack it all up and donate it to charity.  Makes a great tax write-off.

But when your income does not include a surplus for housekeepers, storage units and second homes, or when you've endured a long stretch of poverty that has ingrained the hoarder's habits, it's tough to throw stuff out.  You save it for a rainy day.  You think, "Someday I'll be very glad I held on to this."

There are those houses you pass with cluttered yards.  When you're poor, and you need to keep that car, that mower, that appliance, running for as long as possible, and you need to fix it yourself because you can't afford repairs, you keep a lot of spare parts around.  Get a new (probably refurbished) washer?  Better keep the old one.  Might be some useful parts in it. 

Eventually, all those potential sources of parts (or maybe they could be fixed when you get around to it) sit in the weather for too long and disintegrate into junk.  But then what do you do with it?  Can't take it to the dump.  The dump charges you for the disposal of large items.  Towing away all those junk cars would cost money.  So there they sit, slowly becoming part of the landscape.

And giving the neighbors fits.  "The place is an eyesore!  Why don't they get rid of all that unsightly clutter?"  I'm betting the income of those who complain is higher than those they complain about.

So, writers.  Writers accumulate stuff just like everybody else.  Probably even more so, because writers are notoriously eccentric.  So what they collect, on top of all that potentially useful debris, is eccentric.  Writers also tend to be a sentimental, sensitive lot.  Goes with the territory.  So they keep the origami rose their youngest child made for them, the first draft of their first ever published novel, the cups from the BarFleet party at Arisia, the model of a real castle picked up in Scotland, MLP figures, business cards of every single person they ever met at a convention, mouse skulls, butterfly wings, sea glass, plant pots, pressed leaves and flowers, silver streamers from the Blue Man Group concert,  bookmarks, a handmade change purse from Mexico with Dia de los Muertos figures on it, and crates of books they'll probably never (but they might!!) read/reread.

And, of course, pens.

Now, none of this would be a problem if writers earned lots of money for their work.  They'd just get nice display cases for their eccentric stuff.  And as for the pens, well, who needs pens, anyway, when you've got all the latest devices?  Oh well, maybe to sign those books for fans.  But you have that deluxe gold pen you were awarded at some posh ceremony or other.  Keep that of course.  The rest?  Pitch them.  You can always buy more.

Writers, however, do not earn buckets of money for their work.  So, clutter.  For all the reasons of clutter.  And decluttering?

Good luck with that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to prevent spam appearing on this page. This means you won't see your post right away. Sorry for the inconvenience.