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Stuffocation by James Wallman


Book cover

Stuffocation by James Wallman

It has to be said that stuffocation is a clever bit of word coinage, in the same vein as Oliver James’ Affluenza (mentioned in Wallman’s book and, coincidentally, sitting on my shelf of books recently borrowed from the library and awaiting reading). I was certainly well-disposed to like the work as I’ve long felt that we are an over-acquisitive society drowning in stuff we don’t need. It started well, with some stories about people experimenting with breaking this pattern, interwoven with musings on how we got like this and how we can get beyond it.

You might have picked up the implication though that I came away a little disappointed. The answer to the problem, according to Wallman seems not to be buying less stuff. No, because that would break our economy and take us off the trajectory of never-ending growth that was dreamed in the USA as a response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Instead, we should spend our money on immaterial things: experiences such as fine dining or memorable holidays. Is this solving the problem or keeping up with our consumerist habit without even keeping anything to show for it?

I didn’t feel this question was addressed. Still, I presume the author would at least agree that you shouldn’t rush out to buy this just to leave it sitting on your shelves.

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