walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Before and After Photos

Still More About Organizing/Decluttering. I've started to think of this as a basically pathological activity that has some good side effects; it is _so_ not virtuous in and of itself. I have concluded this for a variety of reasons, but mostly because people who write about their successful decluttering efforts sound about like I feel when I've just finished something: manic crazy high. This cannot be a good idea.

Anyway. I stumbled across some personal organizer websites with before and after photos and there were things about the photos that made me start asking a whole lot of questions that I probably should have asked myself earlier on in this process. Notably, many decluttering bloggers post before photos that look better than anything I've ever seen in an "after" photo and more than a few of the "after" photos look like hotel rooms. Seriously. Not just not lived in -- that's what something looks like when it has been denuded for real estate purposes or for a party. Not live-in-able. The presumable end point of this (assuming it doesn't involve selling everything, buying a backpack and traveling around the world) would be something along these lines.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1812048,00.html

That's old -- from 2008, but it's about the 100 thing challenge. Time, as a centrist newsweekly, had the good sense to include a kitchen photo with a bunch of dirty dishes in it, which at least looks genuinely cluttered.

It occurred to me that if the before photos and after photos are difficult for me to tell apart (I can, but it's sort of like a find-the-differences puzzle, because the before is usually so amazingly orderly to begin with), then there might be a little distortion going on in the perceptions of the people involved in the decluttering process and associated blogging. And that perceptual distortion can be contagious.

I also started seeing books that explicitly drew comparisons between houses and bodies: Put Your House on Diet, Is Your House Overweight. (I was going to mention Whole House Detox stuff, but that's usually more about cleaning chemicals than about decluttering per se.) When you take perceptual distortion and weight/size analogies and put them together, where do you wind up?

*backs away slowly*
Tags: decluttering
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