Don’t be ashamed of hoarding: sentimental ‘stuff’ is what history is made of

November 21, 2017

Originally sourced from: i News

 

"In the digital age, a photo album is more likely to exist in the Cloud, than in my home. We make memories on Snapchat, by swiping, with stories that last 24 hours and then disappear. Hoarders are condemned on daytime TV – and if you haven’t tried out the life-changing Japanese KonMari decluttering method, then, well, where have you been? Eat clean, live clean, carefully curate your effortlessly tidy home. It would be easy to think that stuff is dead.

 

New research from Lloyds bank home insurance reveals it’s still the items that we can hold in our hands, like a child’s drawing or a crumpled concert ticket, which we hold most dear. These items exert a powerful pull to the past, and to who we are. And in our increasingly dynamic, digital world, that becomes ever more important. Stuff turns a space into a place, a house, or flat share, into a home. Archaeologists use grave goods – the stuff our early ancestors stuffed in with dead bodies – as an indicator of cultural intelligence. Stuff makes us human.

 

Research found that more than a quarter of us are storing the equivalent of nine or more box-loads of sentimental stuff in our homes. Half of Britons say they’d never throw away a card given to them by a partner. One in ten of us even admit to holding on to letters and cards from work colleagues.

 

But even more interestingly, we keep secret stuff. One in five people admit to keeping meaningful items hidden from their partner. Birthday cards, love letters, Valentine’s cards, old baby clothes, sports tickets, and old clothes top the list of items we’re secretly stashing away.

 

As a social anthropologist, I study the relationship between people, places and things. In ancient times, more stuff meant people were higher status, richer and better connected. For Generation Rent, stuff is more complicated, and it’s not just because lots of us don’t have much place to put it. Maybe we live in a time of peak stuff – so there’s more of a challenge – and more status to be gained in decluttering than in acquiring. You may get a high when you chuck out stuff – but I’d wager that you might lose more than just the stuff, if you go too far.

 

Those sentimental but ultimately unnecessary possessions express who we really are. They connect us to the people we hold dear. So whether you’re a tech-savvy teen keeping hold of your dad’s vinyl collection (even if you don’t have a record player), or a fashionista (rarely) wearing your grandmother’s costume jewellery – be proud. If you’ve stashed the Christmas card from the hot colleague in the bookshelf, it’s okay. And that weird little picture your niece drew that’s curled and brown but still stuck to the fridge door? Keep it.

 

The value of the imperfect, serendipitous artefacts that tell the stories of our lives can’t be measured in money. Our stuff acquires a history just like we do.

 

So by all means declutter. But don’t dehumanise. Curate your stuff, protect it from accidental damage (bag and box it, store it safely, back it up if you can, make your home secure). But most of all, treasure those treasured possessions. Enjoy them. They’re the artefacts of your history."

Source: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/time-stop-ashamed-hoarding/

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