Thursday, April 7, 2011

From Bearings: "Curators vs. Consumers"

Bearings is a website and bi-weekly email that bills itself as "A Southern Lifestyle Guide for Men." I look forward to it showing up in my mailbox every other Thursday because it is always interesting, always entertaining, and always well done. They usually have five or six short articles that cover things like clothing, music, food, and activities, and are told from a Southern male's perspective. I particularly credit them for turning me on to The Civil Wars and Heirloom Market BBQ. They were originally based in Atlanta, but have now expanded to Nashville (Paul from Dream of Perfection helps write for them up there). If you live in one of those cities, be sure to visit their website and sign up for their email list.

I received today's email and particularly enjoyed a little piece that they wrote on Curators vs. Consumers. It summed up a lot about how I feel about buying things, particularly nowadays. I have posted it below, without their permission, but I hope they won't mind.

Curators vs. Consumers
We often think of the word curator in the context of someone responsible for acquiring, selecting and editing a collection for a museum or an art gallery. A consumer is a more frequently used label, often in the news describing the average American's spending and purchasing power. Aside from these definitions, how we see the world and live out our lives can be put in the context of being a curator or a consumer.

Think of it from this perspective: On one side is the man who is selective, intentional, thoughtful and on a quest to find things of greater value. On the other, there’s a mindset that defaults to thinking primarily of quantity, disposability, impulsivity and seeking more for more's sake. If we are living in an effort to make tomorrow better than yesterday, making it all count is part of the process of maturity and growth. How we use our time, money and relationships should look more like a curator than a consumer. More like an active overseer of meaning.

We are personally responsible for the safeguarding of our lives and we choose how we make the most of it. A curator asks: Am I making intelligent purchases, buying items that last, or just buying something because it's on sale with little regard for its quality? Am I continually simplifying my surroundings and getting rid of what I don't need or am I hoarding and cluttering up my life with stuff? Does this (experience, item or person) make me a better man?

A key part of living like a curator is defining what's valuable to you. We learn and refine this over time, but it needs to be a way of life and a process of thinking. We've been taught that the all-you-can-eat buffet approach was the standard. Yet, often with the one-size-fits all mentality you pay too much for poor quality, consuming more than is healthy - all because the sales pitch claimed you would be getting "more for the money." More shouldn't be our standard any longer. Life is a prized collection, make it unique and make the most of it. Be a discerning, interested curator and not a heedless, indifferent consumer.


j.mosby said...

Music wise, check out:
The Decemberists, Amos Lee's Mission Bell cd, Crooked Still cd... Some Strange Country (very similar to the Civil Wars)

Helen said...

I'm reading your blog.

pmg said...

i appreciate the intent of this post, in trying to break the "sheeple" mindset of American consumerism, but I think this smacks of elitism. We're all consumers, we're American! What is a selected, careful purchase for one person is a rampant waste to another. You buy yourself some $700 leather shoes, sure maybe they will last you 10 years, but that would seem a ridonkulous expenditure to many.

Should we be more careful and discerning in purchases? Sure. Can we honestly point the finger at others without including ourselves? Hardly.

Unknown said...

Is the Bearings site still up? Every time I try to go to that site it times out and won't load.

trip said...

It works for me