The Dilemma of the Steam Mop and Materialism

It is quite interesting how attached as human beings we can become to material goods. I believe that it is both in the pursuit and the ownership of these goods that distracts us and keeps us from experiencing a greater quality of life. Now of course, there are those items which we all own which provide sentimental value, or that are nostalgic in nature. However, it is true, that most of the household goods you’d find in the average middle class persons’ home do not satisfy the above two aspects. The list itself, for some, could become quite cumbersome if I started to name them. However for the purposes of this rant, I am just going to talk about an interesting dilemma I faced today regarding my kitchen steam mop.  You see, I have made a committment over the last couple of years, after doing some travel abroad, to try and avoid being influenced by the bombardment of sales pitches, advertisements, and promotions that fundamentally sell the idea that the acquistion of material goods is equivalent to wealth and success. This idea, that many have ‘bought’ into, just isn’t true. In fact, as I watch others in pursuit of this idea, they are putting themselves in an unhealthy cycle of unnecessary debt and stress. Furthermore, as people are working harder and harder to try and achieve this so called ‘dream’ through the acquisition of material goods, it leaves little time to focus on the healthier aspects of life such as personal and community relationships, relaxation, and personal growth. The result is an overstressed, overburdened emotional state for much of the populace. Swooping quickly in to take advantage of the situation, are the pharmaceutical companies. And people buy their ideas as well. They widely advertise that the solution lies in taking a pill, and people are jumping on the bandwagon left and right.  I’m sure living in the greater New York City area, amplifies my observations. But even as an educated observer, I constantly find the bombardment of the material aquisition=happiness idea communicated via all forms of technology, as well permanantly posted as banners, billboards, signs, etc. difficult to ignore. Personally, I moved away from cable TV years ago, reduced my own TV watching to about 1-2 hours a week via streamed movies and selected TV shows (educational or science fiction for entertainment). I’ve reduced 90% of my purchases to necessity driven only (food, drink, gas, necessary clothing, etc.). Now, I do have a soft spot for books and music CD’s/records however even in that arena I’ve looked for ways to reduce expenditures such as going to the library to borrow books.  I’ve begun to methodically assess everything I own against the following criteria. And if does not meet this criteria, I have or will be selling/ donating it. 

  1. Can I survive without it? 
  2. If it is not needed to survive, does it support a healthy lifestyle or hobby? If so, have I used it in the last year or two? 
  3. If it does not meet the criteria above, does it provide sentimental value? 

Happy Mop LadySo now we get to Mr. Steam Mop. The epitome of one of the items in my home where the media advertisement had convinced me that the product satisfied #2 above, when I purchased it four years ago, the steam mop seemed the perfect healthy alternative to chemical based floor and surface cleaning. And doesn’t the beautiful young lady look so happy using the fancy steam mop as shown in the picture? For lack of a better acronym, LOL. Honestly though, who likes to mop?? The truth is however, I’ve only used it twice.  Yet, today, when I dusted off ol’ Mr. Steam Mop and used it for the last time, I almost decided that I should keep it due to it supporting a healthy lifestyle. I mean that was the idea that I was sold on, and convinced of really and it was surprising how my mind held onto that idea. After some further consideration however, and honestly, I probably thought about this for a couple hours, there are perfectly fine baking soda and vinegar based solutions for floor cleaning that don’t use unhealthy chemicals but still get the job done. So I’m saying goodbye to Mr. Steam Mop, and many other non-essential items I own. I can only hope that someday, more people will be able to see through the false idea that material acquisition = happiness and get back to more core fundamental values in life. 

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