The other day I read an article about a new trend happening in commerce/retail - they say consumers are moving from ownership of products to non-ownership. This is interesting concept for me given my experience working in retail for many years. I found personal comfort in ownership of items and collecting special special edition games, movies, game items, and action figures and game statues, among others.
Ownership was conditioned to denote success and surrounding myself with lots of purchased items seemed to be a way to show this. This also fed into my obsessive-compulsive drive to have all my entertainment items readily accessible. The idea of success through ownership is a concept that was driven home for me as an American youth, reinforced by the strong emphasis on ads and the idea that I "need to buy" and "buy to feel good".
Starting early on the commercialism bandwagon, I found myself confusing needs vs. wants and would use "need" for anything I was purchasing even if it was not actually a "need" or "necessity". I did not learn I was doing this until I ended up going to school for psychology and my colleague pointed out that I was using "need" for everything.
Purchases also became a need for dealing with life stresses. If stress arose, I would go buy something to alleviate it, but was not aware that it had become an issue until it was pointed out that I had "stuff" and "clutter" everywhere.
Through time I applied my psychological background to my own situation and found that removing clutter was therapeutic rather then the buying of the tangible objects. The digital era made this process possible through advances in technology with streaming services, online digital markets, storage increases. Without the need for physical ownership of tangible objects such as music, games, movies and more, clearing up the clutter was made easily done.
So, simplifying is helpful and having a lot of physical objects present that are owned is not as necessary, however, the article point out the idea that maybe we do not truly own the objects we have that are purchased and present on distant company servers and other company locations we cannot access. Owning something means control over the owned object, but if we cannot fully control these purchases do we truly own them? This is also connected to other purchases in general where renting is favored over buying. With media we purchase now on the external sites and stores, it is only accessible through registration and monthly payments. Without paying the access fees, the content cannot be accessed even after its bought, so do we really own what we buy and is this a problem?
Owning is important and visualizing the objects owned helps with this on a digital arena since objects purchased can at least be seen on these sites that are owned, so maybe this allows comfort knowing these items are owned and provides more non-clutter in living and work spaces. I agree there is a trade off, but should every important items such as a living space and car be placed in the same category? Nostalgia is one part in my ownership of objects that gives me joy since I love to look back at the past, but these days it makes more sense to have a living area that is more easily live-able.
Here is the Forbes article for reference: