Some of us have never known a world without a computer, a smart phone or instant access to information. As technology has advanced and access has become more prevalent, people are scripting their lives to prove how important they are and why you should care about them. People are seeking validation and relevance from their titles, their possessions, and from strangers. They are showcasing what they value - what they think makes them relevant.
Cheap technology, disposable products, social-media-famous people, celebrity worship and gadget envy are quickly becoming the new normal. I’m certainly no luddite (I am writing this on a MacBook after all), and lets face it, most of us have smartphones and laptops and are distracted by Instagram and Facebook probably more than we should allow. I’m also just as guilty as the anyone for wanting to justify buying a new gadget or wanting to throw money at a situation that planning, contentment or attention to detail could have solved. However, technology does have it’s place. It can provide access to information and events, or expose injustices that would have been hidden otherwise. People from half a world away can inspire and guide us to become better versions of ourselves - people who we wouldn’t have had access to if it weren’t for our gadgets.
Sadly, our society has become increasingly addicted to consumerism and superficiality and are using these as a benchmark for their own and other people’s level of relevance. It’s tragic because despite having more money, more gadgets, bigger houses, more likes, more friends or more status, their level of unhappiness and lack of contentment has either stayed the same or worsened. So they buy more stuff or get more likes or try to gain more popularity hoping that more makes them more relevant and hopefully, happier - like a dog trying to catch it’s own tail - you’ve caught it, now what?!?
What is relevance from a minimalist point of view? The answer is as varied as the people who practice minimalism. Obviously, a basic axiom of minimalism is the elimination of the need to have more for the purpose of having more. Practicing minimalism opens you to contentment, to a happiness that originates from within, and to the knowledge that you have everything you need and you value everything you have. In turn, you can share this with the people you love, your community and the world around you. Our relevance originates in who we value and how we value ourselves, not from our things or from social media. When we’ve taken care or ourselves and have treated ourselves kindly and with love, when we strip away what’s superficial and what’s unimportant, we find relevance, we are practicing minimalism. You make you relevant, not your things.