Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? […]
Minimalism is now conflated with self-optimization, the trend that also resulted in fitness trackers and Soylent (truly a minimalist food — it looks like nothing, but inspires thoughts of everything else). Often driven by technology, this optimization is expensive and exclusively branded by and for the elite. In Silicon Valley, the minimalism fetish can perhaps be traced back to Steve Jobs’s famously austere 1980s apartment (he sat on the floor) and the attendant simplicity of Apple products. Pare down, and you, too, could run a $700 billion company. A thriving Reddit forum on minimalism debates the worth of Muji products and which hobbies count as minimalist-appropriate, in a communal attempt to live the most effective, if perhaps not the most joyful, life.
These minimalist-arrivistes present it as a logical end to lifestyle, culture and even morality: If we attain only the right things, the perfect things, and forsake all else, then we will be free from the tyranny of our desires. But time often proves aesthetic permanence, as well as moral high ground, to be illusory. And already, the pendulum is swinging back.
The New York Times on oppressive minimalism.
It takes a lot of money not to own very much, because it assumes if you really need something in a hurry, you can just step out and buy it (or else mooch off a friend).
Also, I think people tend to forget Steve Jobs was a fucking dirty hippie. Like, literally: he went on “spiritual” tours to South Asia, was obsessed with Zen art, and was notorious for not showering when he was younger. He wasn’t the only one. Pretty much all of the fucked-up ethics-in-Silicon-Valley bullshit that infects modern culture is what happens when a bunch of white college dudes from the 70s suddenly have to translate their bullshit pesudo-leftist fight-the-man undergrad politics to being overnight millionaires.