author. Bethan Taylor
The concept of 'stuffication' was foreign to me when introduced by James Wallman on Friday. At first I was confused, as this talk began with James getting each of us to get up and dance, which some embraced and danced freely, whilst others bopped along cautiously. One of the points of the Idler Academy was to spread merriment, and this was James's way of achieving this goal. It also lead into thinking about different experiences.
James has spent many years of his life predicting the future. He made assumptions about things such as self-driven cars, which seems to be coming more and more a thing of the future, and built his career around the ability to spot these patterns and decide where they're headed.
The current prediction that James holds is that we are currently in an epidemic of stuffication- the material equivalent of the obesity epidemic. The amount of stuff we have is causing a strain on our environment and our lives. As I sit listening to this idea with an iPad on my lap I'm feeling very self-aware and hypocritical, but then the talk turns to the future.
The future will be experiences rather than objects. According to James, we will no longer own cars, but instead we will pay for the experience of driving. Instead of wanting material presents, we will instead want experiences. The rush one has from buying a new phone will be replaced with the experience of going on a family holiday. If this already sounds familiar to you, this is easily explained as James says 'the future is already here, it just isn't evenly distributed'.
As we all are sat in the grounds of the festival, we are brought to the realisation that we are keeping up with the Joneses. We attend events in fear of missing out, and being left behind. Then we're reassured that this is a part of evolution, that we need to focus on buying less stuff to save the planet, and thus keep ourselves alive. The beauty of this idea is that it seems so logical and flows so naturally from where we are now, in world petrified by it's own demise. It is essential to our survival that our excessive consumption stops. And we sat there, converted experientialists, and realised the concept wasn't that foreign to us after all.