Back in the late 1700s, French philosopher Denis Diderot found himself broke. But he lucked out when Catherine the Great heard he couldn’t afford to pay for his daughter’s wedding and she stepped in to give him a huge wad of cash.
Feeling flush, he bought himself a new red robe. Then this happened…
He immediately felt his other possessions looked flabby in contrast to his new robe. So he bought a new rug. Then some sculptures. Then…and on it went. Until he was once again unable to afford the wedding.
This is the Diderot Effect: when you buy stuff that then creates a spiral of empty consumption.
I’ve said this many times before, shopping begets shopping. You go to The Shops and it compels you to make the most of your visit and you find yourself buying stuff you don’t really need. You figure you should just grab two rolls of wrapping paper because they’re 2-for-1 and buy another sheet set because they’re 20 per cent off.
Or you buy a yoga top. And then get sucked into the matching leggings and matching tote bag and matching drink bottle. None of which you need.
Or you simply go to IKEA and come home with tea light candles. End of story.
The Diderot Effect is exactly what the Big Brands want you to get sucked into. Don’t. Just don’t.
It’s criminal to buy stuff we don’t need. It just is.
The best trick I can offer for avoiding the Diderot Effect is to simply not go to The Shops. For as long as possible. And make do. And fend and improvise. It’s infinitely more fun.