[Moving Zeal] Personalizing Mass-Market Junk

Why do we cherish objects so much? We live in this age of abundance where once we gather enough marketable skills, we will have enough steady income to splurge on clutter, even if we don’t have enough space or money to afford it long-term. So we get the object and immediately it holds a certain value. It’s good and fine for some things, but if your screwdriver breaks, you’re probably going to quickly replace it.

I try to personalize most things.

Ubiquitous objects like screwdrivers don’t really need any personalization because they’re just tools to fulfill certain tasks. Screw and unscrew. I will personalize toolboxes because they have more versatility or require personalization to ensure property retention, but if the toolbox breaks, I won’t cry over it.

Just buy another one.

I’ve personalized my coffee machine because it’s survived two weekend adventures. My laptops get stickers for differentiation and personalization. If the coffee machine or laptops broke, I would only feel so bad. Especially since I frequently back-up data, other than the effort with buying a new one, and spending the time to set it up, it’s just a thing.

Why do we hold so much attachment?

The coffee machine gets demerits for surviving adventures but it holds no special reverence in my heart. Others have come and gone. This one has held up well, but when it breaks, its stickers and personalization will be peeled off before it is recycled. I might take a photo of it and write about it if it did anything more noteworthy, otherwise, it’s just some coffee machine.

I bought it because it was cheap.

It was also the first in a stack of boxes. The one behind it could have failed or could succeed longer than this one. That one could be in your home right now. Why place such importance on objects like these, then? I guess it’s nice that it works, but it’s a finicky little creature that needs a near-daily coaxing to behave.

It has no inherent personality.

I can personalize it but it does not have personality. We might hoard objects as a way to buy more friendships, with objects, that are forced to be our friends, except when they break. The smartphone I’m writing this on will probably work until some physical malfunction occurs. My previous smartphones all still work. They aren’t special.

Why all this thought exploration?

We should rank the objects we own, subconsciously, by their inherent values: utility, aesthetic, and memory-inducing. If the object has none of those three, or any other factors you value, donate or sell it. No reason to hang onto it, right?

These may seem rather trivial.

However, for a recovering hoarder, it’s been valuable for me to look at objects and say: I bought this item because it looked cool, but in seven years of ownership, I never used it to its full potential. There is no need to feel guilty about it.

Pass it on to its next owner.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Exploring why I held onto so many objects over the years. The idea of keeping things because of utility, aesthetic, or memories might become my future metric for retaining ownership.
Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.
Photos: Different focus on my customized coffee machine with some ephemeral merchandise by Municipal Waste I still haven’t completely used. Maybe soon, just to put the bag away into some kind of coffee collection.
Written On: February 22nd [from 11:11PM to 11:36PM]
Last Edited: March 2nd [minimal edits]

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)