I’ve now watched all of the episodes of the Marie Kondo series on Netflix, and I’ve been reading many of the reviews and articles that the show has spawned in the media, and there are a few things that are just not jiving with me…
- In the de-cluttering of a whole house, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on folding clothes and arranging stuff in drawers — how is it that everything beyond clothes, books, papers, and sentimental items falls into one category? Spices, power tools, and computer cables are all together? This is the case in Kondo’s books as well, and it always felt weird to me, especially since people tend to buy things like cosmetics and food with a similar “instant gratification” mentality that they have to clothes and books.
- Perhaps there’s more that we’re missing in the process, due to editing of the video, but de-cluttering is, first and foremost, based on hard logic. Does this fit? If not, get rid of it. Does it need repairs, re-dying, or a complete overhaul to be usable and is there a reasonable expectation that the person will actually make those repairs? Will it honestly be used again (for instance a book that was read once and not particularly enjoyed)? I didn’t really see this process, nor did Kondo really seem to promote it, favouring her “spark joy” philosophy that really allows people to keep all the broken, ripped, faded, ratty, and useless crap in their lives just because they still love it.
- Kondo has softened her “just get rid of it stance” a bit for the series, with many reviews emphasizing the fact that she seems pretty laid back about not judging people for their stuff or wanting to keep it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not exactly the same sentiment the book was based on.
- The idea of expressing gratitude to your belongings can seem a bit kooky at first, but it’s actually something we should be doing all the time, not just as we’re getting rid of an item. This is far easier to do when you are able to pare your belongings down to things that you love using or having around you, so you experience joy every day because of the things in your life.
- I screamed out loud in horror as I watched Kondo put a fitted sheet on the floor in order to demonstrate how to fold it. What the actual fucking fuck? Two thoughts immediately came into my head during this segment; first, generations of mothers and grandmothers making that “tsk” noise, both at Kondo’s placing a clean sheet on the floor (!!!) and the fact that most people don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet; and second, could I somehow turn this into an opportunity to offer classes to teach people how to properly fold a fitted sheet (that didn’t involve throwing it on the floor, or using a flat surface at all… Yes, I can actually do this. Yes, I am a witch). My method involves a puppet show, if that helps…
- In the spirit of Miriam (“Don’t say ‘like’, dear, it makes you look ignorant”) Margoyles, I would like to offer a language de-cluttering course. I would offer this for free to the woman in episode one, who dropped 4 or 5 “likes” into every sentence. Cluttered speech is as bad as a cluttered home.
- De-cluttering is well and good but would be mostly unnecessary if people didn’t feel the need to buy so much stuff in the first place. Folding shirts nicely in response to a shopaholic/hoarding problem is a bit like sticking a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Dealing with the psychological why of accumulation doesn’t make for terribly enthralling TV, of course, unless you hired someone to follow the shopaholic to the mall and jump out at them from behind the sales racks yelling, “You don’t need that, Barb! You know you don’t need that! Put it back!” (Yes, you’re damned right I want to host this show.)
- I was also a bit disappointed at the follow-up in terms of what the guests were meant to do with their stuff once they decided it no longer sparked joy. Some episodes showed participants dropping off items at local charities, but not all. And there was no point in Kondo’s sorting process, in any of the episodes, where we clearly saw participants sorting stuff into sections of donate/trash/sell. I presume this did happen, but it should have been more prominent. (And the guy with the massive collection of sneakers could likely have sold many of the pairs in his collections as “vintage” and made back some of the $10,000 of debt he accumulated buying all those sneakers he never wore.)
I binge-watched most of the series one afternoon when I was immobilized by a migraine, and it mostly left me feeling really dissatisfied. To be fair, I did go refold all the clothes in my dresser drawers, but I don’t feel that Kondo’s system is truly comprehensive in terms of a start-to-finish whole-house purge that deals with both the reasons for the clutter and what to do with the stuff you’re getting rid of.
And I’m happy to demonstrate to her how to properly fold a fitted sheet while standing up anytime she’d like to learn.