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Journal Simplify Thrive

My Personal Social Dilemma

About a month ago people started contacting me out of the blue. They all told me they missed me on social media. It was weird, that about 5 people that I haven’t interacted with in months or years suddenly reached out to me over the course of a week or so. I didn’t ask why; I was kind of afraid to know the answer. The social pressure to be normative and get back on social media is already there any time I get online, anywhere, for any reason. That’s my personal social dilemma.

There Are Other Ways

I get most of the online content I consume through an RSS feed aggregator. It doesn’t show me things I didn’t ask for. People I choose to follow don’t suddenly go missing unless they’re legitimately not posting. Things are presented chronologically. There’s no interference from algorithms. The only ads I see are to get a better plan with the RSS aggregator that offers more features, which seems like a fair thing to hit me up for. None of this creates the illusion of a connection between content creator and content consumer, though.

Some of the marketing, publishing, and writing feeds I keep pitching the necessity of having a social media presence. Years and years of data tell me that, for my business, this is not true. Few people will step off of Facebook or Twitter to visit my blog and read a post. A barely non-zero number of sales have ever been generated by my social media presence, even when I had accounts with thousands of followers.

Still, in spite of several attempts and massive amounts of evidence, elements of doubt continue to be introduced. What if it’s not social media? What if I’m just doing it wrong?

A Toe in the (Toxic) Water

After reading several newer pieces on using social media for business, I started syndicating my company blog posts to Twitter. I began to interact with people there, for just a few minutes a day. Then I started syndicating these blog posts to my personal account, although I haven’t really spoken up or commented on anything there.

A couple of weeks later, and I have some preliminary results from this experiment. As expected, there has been no boost in sales or traffic. I am, however, more anxious, angry, and unhappy than I was prior to resuming contact with these toxic environments.

The Social Dilemma

Yesterday I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It’s a bit superficial and cheesy, but think it could be eye-opening to a lot of people. If you’re like me, i.e. you’ve been paying attention, there’s nothing new here. Social media is manipulative, it’s bad for you, and it’s destroying civilization as we know it. That’s not hyperbole. There are facts upon facts upon facts to support it.

Of course, it won’t make any difference. Everyone has their own facts now, and we don’t live in anything like a shared, common reality. People who are already inclined and understand and agree with this film, will. Those who don’t find it to be in their best interests will deny that there’s anything to it, and dismiss it as stupid or propaganda.

I need to go blow up my social media accounts again.

My Personal Social Dilemma

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Journal Simplify

The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome

A version of this post, The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome, was previously published here on 8 January 2017. 

Minimalism is nothing more than getting rid of what you don’t need, in order to make more space for the things that you truly need and want. Period. You can spend a lot of time trying to define “need” and “want” and how blurry the line between them might be. There are conversations that could be had as to the means of getting rid of excess things. We could go over every possible type of resource to be saved from our tendencies to squander — money, time, food, energy, even affections and emotions. It all comes back to the same core statement: Minimalism is nothing more than getting rid of what you don’t need, in order to make more space for the things that you truly need and want.

It’s not a lifestyle. Minimalism is a tool. It’s an effective set of filters that help you to sort don’t-need from need/want. What it’s mean to do is help you focus, so that you’re not wasteful with your finite resources. It can make you more productive, help you to cultivate gratitude, and even lead you toward happiness by bringing you closer to your goals. It’s certainly not a contest, to see who can survive with the least amount of stuff or accomplish the most tasks in the briefest interval of time. That’s missing the point. But you know what they say, when you’ve converted to the cult of being a hammer, your newfound zealotry makes everything look like a nail.

Creating Word Clutter

I used to write a lot about minimalism. It quickly became repetitive. There’s only so much to say. At a certain point, you begin to break the basic tenets. You’re adding things you don’t need, creating unnecessary clutter. Excess verbiage detracts from getting what you need, and what you want. The fact that a lot of self-styled minimalists began to rub me the wrong way, because they’re incredibly pretentious, made me not want to be in that company. Their philosophical ramblings and holier-than-thou attitudes were taking up space I needed for more important things.

I don’t like clutter. It’s visual noise, and I have an anxiety disorder. Clutter is a distraction. It also takes time to dust it, to move it to dust underneath it, to move in order to get to the things I need, you know the drill. I learned a long time ago that quality is better than quantity. A few good things that I use often, that are pleasing to the eye and built to last, are much more satisfying to possess than a bunch of things I might need someday and have on hand just in case.

It feels good to use finite resources effectively, no matter what those resources are. There’s satisfaction in making things last longer. In getting more out of them. In knowing that the value comes not from the thing but in how you’ve learned to utilize it more effectively. By being targeted and selective, you can get what really matters to you.

Simple Living is the Key

This is one of the reasons that I’m focusing more on simple living minimalism. There’s a lot of ground to cover with simple living. It’s why I’m folding in the context of being a self-employed creative, and a spoonie. I think that this niche I’m in is a lot broader and deeper than the plain vanilla minimalism. So many other blogs already have covered.

The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Simplify Thrive

Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

A version of this post, Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn, was previously published here on 19 July 2018. 

Hey, look, I know that there are some famous minimalist gurus who do everything in black and white. Others seem to go monochromatic, or use a lot of white space. As a symbolic gesture or a way to establish a style for your brand, it works. That doesn’t mean that your life has to be drab. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or want to make space for the things you do means just that. It’s one area where I agree with the nice Japanese lady; if a thing makes you happy, it’s a valid reason to hang onto it.

As I’ve stated before, my bullet journal is not an arts-and-craft project that doubles as a productivity system. It’s a productivity system that I leverage with color-coding. I also tend to doodle while I think. Pens, highlighters, and Washi tape fits in with that. But I also live in a country where it’s dark and depressing for a good part of the year. Do you know what helps with that, psychologically? Bright, happy colors. I own useful things, and many happen to be pretty. That’s all within the “rules” of simple living minimalism.

How Much Constitutes Enough is Subjective

Yes, I am aware that there are minimalists who only own 100 things. Or 50. Or some other completely subjective number. There are various reasons people do this, some of which are valid. I follow a couple of minimalists that travel the world. They need to keep the number of items they take with them down to the most practical lower limit. Some people live in tiny homes, or can only afford ridiculously small apartments. There are some, like me, who know that their housing situation is ultimately temporary and they’ll have to move at some point. I hate moving, so the less I own, the less annoying it will be.

I think that there is an objective amount of stuff that constitutes “too much”. If you can’t walk through a room, you probably have an excessive amount of stuff. A vast collection of broken and useless objects is likely unnecessary. Things you haven’t used or looked at in years would qualify. Beyond that, though, it really is subjective. Oh no, I own 9 rolls of Washi tape! Well, yeah. It takes up virtually no space and I probably dropped a whole €8 on it, if that much. I rarely spend money on myself. It also gets used, and it adds some non-austere visual interest to the journal I live out of every single day. I don’t think I’ve lost the plot here.

Color is a Thing That Exists

Let’s go back to that part above where I mentioned moving. If we have a choice, we will remain here in Finland, in this city. It could be another city, though.  We could even end up in another country. Moving is inevitable. I’ve been living in this state of temporariness, this holding pattern of sorts, for six years. I am ready to have a permanent based of operations again. Not necessarily so I can spread out, but to maybe be able to buy some things — large things, heavy things, expensive things — that I know I’ll be able to hold onto, and not have to sell off because they’d be too expensive to ship to wherever we end up moving to.

My world comes down to Katie, my laptop, and my journal. Everything else is replaceable. Furniture, cookware, bedding, it’s all just stuff. I can probably get all of my clothes into one suitcase. The pens, tape, and other accessories that goes with journaling can get thrown into the backpack I use as a laptop bag. So why can’t I have a few objects, like my teddy bears and my emotional support unicorn, as the anchors that identify the space I occupy as “home”?

The bottom line is that the things that I have are not only useful, but especially meaningful to me. That’s because I do have so few things. I’ve loosened up a bit lately, for the sake of mental health and self-care, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve fallen entirely off the simple living wagon. All I’ve done is adjust my own definitions of what I want, and what I’m willing to make space for, to accommodate my own changing needs.

Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Simplify

Stop Confusing Minimalism with Austerity

A version of this post, Stop Confusing Minimalism with Austerity, was previously published here on 8 November 2018. 

There are people who won’t even discuss simple living minimalism with me. They’ve got some weird notions about what it is. For some reason they think that it’s akin to a monastic vow of poverty. Why would they want to get rid of all of their stuff? That’s a good question. If you’re happy with your stuff, you wouldn’t. So don’t. Stop confusing minimalism with austerity. You only need to utilize principles of simple living if you’re trying to accomplish something.

There are people out there who want to own no more than a hundred things. If that’s what makes them happy, more power to them. That’s not the goal of simple living. There are also people who have a fetish for tiny houses, and want to prove they can live in the smallest space possible. That’s not reasonable for most people. It’s not the goal of simple living.

Becoming a simple living minimalist isn’t some sort of macho dare to see who can survive with the least. You don’t have to live on a straw pallet, wear a hair shirt, and carry a begging bowl around. Do some people do that? Sure. Is that the norm for minimalists? Decidedly not. Is is required in order to use the tools and concepts of minimalism in your life? Definitely not.

No One’s Making You Do Anything

The thing about minimalism is that it’s a principle. It’s a way of doing things, not a goal. It isn’t about having the least stuff. It’s about having the right stuff. Be wise about how you spend your money, your time, and your energy. Don’t waste finite resources on things that don’t add value to your life in some way. You, and you alone, get to define what that last part, “add value to your life”, means.

I often encounter people who, for some reason, think that simple living minimalism is some form of socialism. Yeah, like the minimalists are going to come along, take their stuff, and redistribute it to other people. I have no idea where they get this idea. Probably from the fact that minimalists don’t buy into unchecked consumerism. That doesn’t make us, by definition, anti-capitalist. It just means we’re more selective about what we spend our money on. It’s more about planned, well-research purchases and far less about impulse buys. I may only own 3 pairs of pants, but they’re going to be the best damned pants money can buy.

Stop Confusing Minimalism with Austerity

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Simplify Thrive

Simple Living Productivity: Freedom from Distractions

A version of this post, Simple Living Productivity, was previously published here on 9 November 2018. 

Minimalism is about more than editing your material possessions. It’s a mindset to help you focus on what’s important. That means being protective of your time and energy as well. Those are finite resources that are even more valuable than money. Stop wasting them on things that don’t matter. I call it simple living minimalism, and it’s how I’ve been able to accomplish things while still finding a healthy work/life balance.

Productive Minimalism

One thing that an hourly wage structure has conditioned us to believe is that activity is the same is productivity. You don’t have to be busy, you just have to look busy. As long as you’re keeping up appearances, your boss will probably still pay you. That means that all tasks are theoretically equal. A flurry of activity that amounts to doing nothing is perceived to be better than standing around doing nothing, but the net result is the same. It’s fine if you’re satisfied with just serving time, but if you have any ambition at all it’s just wasteful.

If you want to be productive, you need to target your efforts. Cut out things that you know are a waste of time. Stop pretending that they aren’t, or trying to justify those tasks as having some meaning that they don’t possess. Do the things that most need doing.

The Cost of Distraction

Distractions kill productivity. Time is money and all of that. Eliminate the unnecessary tasks, get more valuable work done, make more money. I wish we could get beyond that, because while it’s true, it’s not everything. The cost of distraction is increased pressure to meet deadlines. Instead of getting done on time or even early, you waste time and have to scramble to finish on time. Who needs that stress? The cost of distraction is the feeling that you shouldn’t make time for yourself. You’ve already blown your “free” time when you should have been working.

Productive minimalism is eliminating the trivial wastes of time. Then you can enjoy longer blocks of time, and spend them doing meaningful things. We all hate meetings and pointless emails, because that’s time we could be putting toward a useful or interesting project. Five minutes surfing the internet here, ten minutes playing a game on your phone there, all add up to hours you could be spending with loved ones, reading a book, or even sleeping late.

Simple Living Productivity

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.