Sunday, February 4, 2018

51. The Ableist Concept of Spending Money on Experiences

We've all heard it:

YOLO!

You should spend your money on "experiences," not "things!" [accompanied by a judgmental eye role].

Minimalism is the best way to live!


All of these phrases function on an underlying assumption that buying and enjoying material things is inherently bad, bordering on immoral, while blowing money on experiences like travel, live shows, and high energy, especially physical events is a much better way to live. 

But here's the rub: that's an entirely ableist perspective. 

Some people can't travel without spending lots of money on extra plane seats for medical equipment, extra money on private hotel rooms rather than group rooms at hostels, or extra days off work to recover after the traveling. Are these people supposed to live a spartan lifestyle to save money for extremely expensive trips that might end up an unfathomably miserable experience despite careful planning and extra suitcases full of meds? 

No. Absolutely not. 

And this is why I've let go of my world-traveling ambitions. Small, well planned trips when the money allows? For sure! But I am not going to live a minimalist lifestyle in favor of experiences that might end up being loathsome experiences and possibly do long-term damage to my health and well being. 

That being said, I have embraced enjoying "things" in the day-to-day. I see nothing wrong with choosing to spend money on cosmetics, plants, and home decor if I'm going to spend 90% of my life at home. I see nothing wrong with wanting nice things, if I'm going to spend the majority of my life surrounded by and using those things. 

Not everyone can get out and go sky diving. Not everyone has a great time at an outdoor concert with limited accessibility. And for those people, choosing things over experiences should not be perceived as a character flaw. We're not being materialistic. We're not wasting our money. 

Buying, enjoying, and celebrating things over experiences is how some of us with disabilities can "YOLO." 

--d'Artagnan



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