Good morning, Tuesday. It's a beauty of a day here in the city- feels more like Fall than Spring and I'm a big fan of this crispy air. Too bad I'm cooped up inside but that's a whole 'nother thing.
So I was reading this New Yorker piece on this little microcultural movement that's happening around #vanlife. If you're unfamiliar, just do a quick search of the hashtag on Instagram and you'll be regaled of good looking boho types, living life to the fullest, out of the back of a van. Yup, a van.
I won't pretend I'm not a sucker for a road trip- a cross country odyssey in search of G-d, the best burrito, the meaning of life. Whatever. I'm down. But the thought of living out of a van holds very little appeal. For starters, it's rare you'll see me in a bikini. And my sun salutations are never taking place in actual sunlight. My dog is a bit of a fancy paws and not sure he would take to living in the wild. Oh, and you have to live in a van. Girl, please. There's not enough patchouli in the world.
It's interesting that this has come at a time where we keep hearing about paring down, living with less, smaller homes and smaller spaces. But I would say this is a bit extreme, and really- if you are partnering with brands as you live out of said van to document your free spirited lifestyle, well- the Gen Xer in me who hates a sellout thinks that's cheating. If you are going to live out of a van, you gotta disengage. Or do you? I'm on the fence. I find the whole thing somewhat fascinating from a voyeuristic place, but I can laugh out loud when I think about how my own experience might play out. And I doubt it would go well. But truth be told- as I'm surrounded by stacks and stacks of crap as I prepare for this move ( has not happened yet, crazy as that is), I did give this #vanlife some thought. And then I thought about air conditioning, general hygiene, and my lack of bikinis.I don't look great dirty. I don't know how to cook over an open flame, or really at all. And I'm holding my ears already thinking about the fights I would have with David when it comes to #vanlife. I don't think you can do this life if you're Jewish, by the way. This is for people with Nordic roots or some such. I'm not cut out for it, and I know this. I'm a homebody, not a vanbody.
But as a culture watcher, I do think it's fascinating- the need to live an independent life, free from the 9 to whenever, etc. etc. But as a cynic, I really hate that this freewheeling, countercultural lifestyle comes with a sponsorship opportunity. I am not old enough to have experienced the Summer of Love, but I don't think any of the real hippies were choosing this lifestyle for "Cliff Bars" as one friend of mine said on Facebook after I posted the article. Or this quote a friend pulled: “Currently my work is storytelling and aligning with companies supporting our lifestyle and Earth.” Ugh. And ugh again. I thought all you need is love? Apparently a deal with a cool brand is all you need. Ugh to the nth power. Apparently, living in a van by the river has come a long way since Chris Farley. How chic!
I guess my takeaway, and yes I know I work in advertising, is how much I hate the commoditization of everything in our culture. From Coachella (the fashion this year is unimaginably awful ps) to Art Basel to #vanlife or just #lifeingeneral. It's out of control and lazy and frankly, ridiculous. I'm not sure the younger gens feel that way, but I do. If you are going to check out, why sell out? Or at least why sell out in such an obvious way? It's clear they're not in on the joke. Living in a van for money is serious business. That alone is beyond disturbing. Why oh why does everything" have to become a "thing"? Why does a lifestyle now almost always turn into a lifestyle brand?
Oh and one more note on why this is so bothersome- some people have to live in vans for a much more tragic reason- they're homeless. And not by choice. So glorifying pretty people that sleep in a van and get paid for it makes me a little throw up in my mouthy. I just hate that everything has a price tag, even living off the grid. I fully support people tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. But drop out. Really drop out. I'd have much more appreciation for you then. Maybe I really am a hippie chick after all.
Cause that's what's up this not living in a van by the river, even for money kind of Tuesday in the BK. Yours, in well orchestrated hashtags. XO