This week, Channel 4 had a one-off programme called “Life Stripped Bare“, which turned out to be pretty interesting.
It was basically about how people handle having no possessions. All their items, furnishing, clothing – everything – is taken away and put in storage, leaving them with absolutely nothing except the walls of their homes. It was slightly gratuitous, as all the participants had to strip off, leaving them to start the process completely naked. I understand the reasoning for it, but yeah, there seemed to be a lot more focus on that than was strictly necessary.
Each participant (a single woman, a house-share of a man and woman, and another house-share of two men and a woman) was allowed to get back one item a day from storage – although in all three cases, that storage unit was at least half a mile away, so they had to make the effort and journey in order to get those things. In autumn/winter. The first couple of days, where clothing was limited (to say the least) showed off their inventiveness all round – and the single woman in particular, whose first choice was a bolt of material, from which she fashioned a load of things, rather than just one thing.
It was interesting though, seeing what the people valued, what they couldn’t live without, and then what they did once everything was returned. Naturally, with the participants being late-twenties and early-thirties, one of the things they had real problems living without was their phones, and being pretty much permanently connected to the world.
It also made me think about my own attitudes to possessions, what I have, what I value, what I could live without if I chose to. I think a lot of that would come down to semantics, for example whether “books” counts as one possession as a whole, or whether each one is an individual possession.
All told, there’s a lot I could live without if I had to or chose to. I wouldn’t want to be reduced all the way to zero possessions – I don’t think anyone truly would – but I think I probably could handle a significant reduction if I had to.
Anyway, it was an interesting programme, and made for some interesting thoughts – which I may write more about at some point in the future. Or not. We’ll see.