When Physical and Digital Worlds Collide

06 Apr
by Jenny, posted in Consumerism/Minimalism   |  41 Comments

Photo credit: hansol

It has become clear to me over the past several weeks that my digital and physical worlds are independent from one another. I’ve been spending so much time in the blogosphere lately that it’s hard for me to remember that not everyone shares my viewpoint on simple living and aggressive debt repayment.

Over the past few weekends I’ve had the pleasure of attending a family gathering, a friend’s baby shower and an impromptu meet-up with a couple of friends. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the time I spent with my family and friends!

But I did notice a common theme.

Some of my friends have an idea of what I’m up to because of this blog, and most of my family members have a vague idea of what I’m up to — with the exception of my parents and sister whom are fully aware and supportive of my ambitions.

Here is what I’ve learned from these social gatherings: many of my friends and most of my family now think I’m odd and wacked in the head.

To illustrate my point, here are some of the questions, or responses to some of my statements I’ve received over the past few weeks:


Me to my oldest brother: Hey, do you know of any jewelers that are buying gold? I want to get rid of some gold and watches I don’t wear.

My brother in response: Why? Are you going to sell all of your things and move to a commune?!

Me: No?


A question from a good friend: Did I see on Facebook where you stopped using your dishwasher now?

Me in response: Yep!

My friend in utter disbelief: Why would do that?

For the answer to this question, you can see my guest post over at So Much More Life on Ditching my Dishwasher.


My friends’ response after I explained that one of the ways we cut expenses was to cancel our cable: Wide eyes. Looked at each other and then back at me. <crickets chirping>

If you’re curious about why I canceled my cable, you can read more about it here.


My friend’s response after I told the tale of our plan to aggressively pay down our mortgage: Why don’t you just refinance into a 15-year loan?

This was actually a great question, and I’ll talk more about why we decided to stick with our 30-year conventional mortgage loan in an upcoming post.


These are just a few examples of the reality I’m facing when trying to communicate my new lifestyle choices to those that “knew me when…”

I’ve also been hearing a lot of, “Oh, poor Kirk.” And if my husband Kirk is present, he has been thoroughly enjoying the looks of sheer pity he gets when I’m talking about things like cancelling our cable.

So, just to clear things up, I’m going to be interviewing Kirk in an upcoming post to clear up any misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, I am not forcing my beliefs on Kirk’s poor soul. In fact, he’s more than happy to tell me when I’m talking crazy. Not that this has ever happened. Ahem.

And don’t take this to mean that I’m speaking negatively of my friends or my family — I’m definitely not. I love all of them! I’ve just found it interesting how they’ve been reacting to my lifestyle choices. In the end, I know they care about me just as I care about them — even if we don’t see eye-to-eye.

So my question to you is this: Have you found that your digital and physical realities are different? In what ways?

P.S. Deb from Life Beyond Stuff lightly touches on the idea of creating a “second self,” in the digital world in her latest thought-provoking post, The Truth About Minimalist Blogging. If you haven’t read her post yet, you should.

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Related posts:

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  2. When Your Child is a Packrat
  3. Multitasking = Scattered Energies
  4. Nostalgia, Sentiments and Stuff
  5. The More (Open) Minds the Merrier
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41 Responses to When Physical and Digital Worlds Collide

  1. Thanks for the mention and the ping!.

    The second-self thing isn’t what you think; my second-self realisation might not even be what Ev Bogue meant. I I have another blog under a pseudonym that I started before Life Beyond Stuff. It’s popular but it’s in a micro-niche. I sell an e-book off it. I consider her as my second-self and I need to make her much more self-sustaining. I’m going to create a landing page more focused on selling the book rather than keep it in its current format which still relies on regular blog posts. There are quite a few sites run more along these lines http://www.paleodietlifestyle.com is a good example (there you go Rick, now you know). I guess this one isn’t a blog at all it’s a website that you can subscribe to regular updates from, but a technophobe life me can turn a blog into something similar I think. If done well it should require a lot less work, leaving my first self time to work on other things.

    I’m upfront about minimalism and all my friends and family accept it but I’ve always been pretty out there (it must be that brain of mine:-) ). The only trouble I have is being car-free. I don’t know why but I shy away from telling people I meet over here that we don’t have a car here (we still have one in New Zealand).

    A very wise woman told me recently that other people’s ideas about us are none our business. Our business is being the best that we can be and modelling that for the world.

    Nice post, I love the format and I really like your weekly wrap up too.


    • Hey Deb! I like your idea to turn your mysterious ( :) ) other blog into more of a website to sell your e-book. That way you could merge more with your primary self. (Yep. This is all sounding a little crazy!). ;)

      That’s great that your friends and family accept your choice to live a more minimal life. I think my family and friends that are skeptical will come around in time. I hope!

      It sounds like the wise woman you’re speaking of is quite insightful. I love that perspective!

  2. I once tried to explain to a group I attend how each piece of junk in your life draws life out of you and distracts you from your true purpose, and I got lots of reponses indicating that some people enjoy using their junk as a crutch or as a barrier to facing the real world. So I don’t mention simplicity to this very complicated group much anymore.

    • Hi Gip! Ha, ha. I think I got a similar reaction when I rearranged my nephew’s room at my sister’s house one time so he would sleep better. In fact, I distinctly remember my brother sitting in another room circling his ear with his finger while chanting, “coo-coo.”

      • I’m starting to wonder if we have far flung but related family members (hehe) Gip is right, too, you reach a point where you have to restrain from sharing with certain individuals. :(

        • It’s possible Gena. I remember you using the word “capiche” in one of your recent posts because I chuckled. Both of my parents are part Italian so many Italian words and phrases (okay mostly just swear words) were tossed around my house when I was growing up. ;)

  3. Chrissy Payne

    Hi Jenny,

    I think this post is interesting! Pre-William we used the Dave Ramsey method to pay off some credit cards and have since cut way back on our expenses. I applaud you for your efforts!!!!!!! I think this way of thinking is fantastic! Also – if you need someone to buy your gold – I recently did a logo/brand for a goldsmith! Anyhow – love this post. :)

    • Chrissy! I’m so happy to see you here. :)

      You’re the second friend of ours that has admitted to using the Dave Ramsey method to pay off debts. I guess there are some people in my physical world that understand where I’m coming from. I sure could have used your perspective this past weekend. ;)

      I already sold the gold, but I have three watches (2 ESQ and 1 vintage Gucci) I’m looking to unload. Does your client buy those?

  4. The conversations you’re having are really interesting! My folks have a pretty major clutter problem, and I’ve been helping them with it, so they totally support me in my clutter clearing. When I suggested to my mom that the second step in clutter clearing is not to bring more stuff home – she almost got mad! I would love it if she could examine her relationship to shopping, but maybe she’s not there yet. But for the most part, my family is really proud of me when I discuss my clutter clearing and what I’ve learned from tracking my spending. I don’t know anyone else in my “real life” – my folks included – that has ever tracked their spending!

    My folks and my inlaws all still look high and low for our tv when they come over (even though we left it in the spare bedroom at my inlaws’!!), and they don’t know how we get along without internet in our home.

    Throughout my life I have been accused of “thinking too much”, and I imagine some people in my life think that clutter clearing, tracking spending, improving my diet, are results of that. But that’s cool. It’s not enough for me to just float along, not paying attention to what I’m doing! I’d rather think too much than not enough!

    My husband is training for a half-marathon. When he tells anyone how much he runs every day, the answer INEVITABLY is “That’s crazy!” It amuses me as much as it horrifies me; how do they THINK people train to run long distances??

    I am still shy in my digital world and some parts of my social world to share the fact that I am involved with a spiritual organization. I feel like that will be more harshly/inaccurately judged than any other change I have made in my life. I don’t know if it’s true or if I am overreacting to something that hasn’t even happened yet.

    • Liina,

      You got it going on girl. Sometimes you gotta get brave, speak your truth, and let those people in your life come to their own conclusions. Would you friends and family love you less for thinking too much? Would they love you less for choosing your own spiritual path? Perhaps (a teensy, tiny perhaps) they would grow and stretch if confronted with the fact that their darling Liina is doing things a little differently than them.

    • HI Liina! I’ve been accused of thinking too much myself. ;)

      My spiritual/religious beliefs are incredibly eclectic and ever changing. I understand what you mean about feeling as though you might be misunderstood for discussing your beliefs in that area. Many people (like me!) are respectful of the many different viewpoints on spiritual and religious beliefs, but unfortunately many are not. I’ve found that when I do discuss my beliefs with others, they’re usually very respectful and tolerant of my perspective. After all, no one really knows the “right” answers to questions regarding the afterlife or lack thereof. We just have to go with what makes sense to us at the time.

      And good for you for tracking your spending Liina!

  5. So you’re making poor Kirk move onto a commune? You’re heartless Jenny! :)

    Ah, they’ll come around (maybe). Either way at some point soon in the future you’ll be debt-free, junk-free, and ready for some amazingly fun times… all sans cable. And then all your friends will be wondering why you look so gosh-darn happy all the time.

    • Hey Tanja! Yeah, yeah I know. I’m quite the dictator apparently. Not!

      I’m looking forward to the day when all the junk is gone and the only thing I can’t get rid of is my annoyingly happy smile! ;)

      • Anne Lawrie

        I love that! I may have to quote you because that’s how I feel as well. I’m used to people thinking me odd because of my out-of-mainstream beliefs. That’s their problem.

  6. I always get a laugh when I get excited about something new and possibly more efficient, bring it up in a conversation and watch people who might not know me that well get a little darty eyed haha. Happened this past weekend in a group where I started in on my latest find.
    I found that I can dry 4 loads of laundry at the local laundromat for .75 and it’s done in 18 minutes-total! The normal dry cycle at home takes 35 minutes apiece, so for 4 loads that’s over 2 hours of electicity being spent(and the dryer is one of the biggest users of electricity in the home)

    I won’t have an official report on the savings until we get our next bill but I’m guessing it has to be substantial. It doesn’t appear that there’s much savings by washing clothes at the laundromat so we wash here, dry there. I bike the clothes into the laundromat so there is no associated gas/car cost.

    As far as physical/digital worlds, I do keep my blog somewhat anonymous, and have only given it to a select few of our friends who I know would understand or even be interested :)

    • Hey Anon/Vegabonding (I never know what to call you)! ;)

      That’s interesting that the laundry mat’s dryers are so much more efficient (in time and energy). I’m trying to picture how you get the laundry there on your bike…oh wait, you have a little trailer thingy, right? I’m pretty sure I saw one in one your blog photos.

      And I totally get the darty eye thing when people don’t know how to respond to something you’ve said! Ha, ha.

    • Some of my posts are now appearing, but I notcie that it is a selective process.As well as getting caught in the Spam Karma filter (which has rules specific to this blog), your comments are being caught in the Akismet filter (which operates based on external rules).I suspect that you are being caught in the Akismet filter because comments you have made on other blogs have been marked as spam by the authors of those blogs.Hopefully you won’t have problems posting comments here in future but, if you do, I’ll manually pick out your comments from the filter, and keep reporting them as not spam’ until Akismet takes notcie.

    • I found just what I was needed, and it was entertaining!

  7. I have actually been surprised at how supportive a lot of my friends have been about minimizing and consuming less! Many of them agree that it’s about time we start thinking differently about how to live our lives.

    But people at work think it’s a little odd sometimes that I talk about moving to Costa Rica and selling everything we own. I can’t wait to show them that having less stuff and working less (therefore making less money probably) can actually make you happier. Unfortunately, some people are just so stuck in their lives, they don’t see a way out. They see me as a young kid (I’m not!) with no mortgage and no kids that can run off and do all the things they wish they could, but think they can’t. It’s all a mindset and that’s influenced by what you read, who you hang out with. 2 years ago, I probably would have thought I was crazy too! lol

    • Hi Marianne – That’s awesome that your friends and family have been supportive of you so far! I know what you mean about people thinking that you can make the choices you’re making because your young, kid-less, etc., etc. I agree that anything in life is 100% a mindset. If you believe you can live your life a certain way, begin to associate with people that believe the same thing and take steps towards living that life it will absolutely happen! :)

  8. Kim

    We have been cable free and down to one TV in our house for coming up on a year now. Our friends think it’s weird but envy our $25 cable bill for basic use. We use netflix and eye TV now and the kids (7, 9) don’t seem to miss it. They can watch most of their shows they like on netflix and we buy movies for them off iTunes. My mom isn’t ready to give up the TV in her bedroom but always mentions how well she sleeps at our house. There’s no TV in her room here blaring at her all night is why!

    I don’t have a blog so no comparison between digital me and physical me but there is definitely a difference between the me I am at home and the public me!

    • Hello Kim! We use Netflix too and our oldest son (six) doesn’t seem to mind at all. He didn’t watch much TV before we cut the cable anyways. And I could never sleep with the TV blaring in my bedroom either!

      It’s interesting that you feel you’re a little different in public than you are at home. I totally get that. Sometimes I just keep my mouth shut in public so I won’t look like a complete leper. ;)

  9. This one is close to my heart:
    My friends’ response after I explained that one of the ways we cut expenses was to cancel our cable: Wide eyes. Looked at each other and then back at me.

    Love it. We cancelled tv over a year ago and now can not imagine having it turned back on. On top of saving some cash every month, we are no longer zombies watching it at night. Funny how that happens…..

    • Hi Gregg! We are really surprised how much we don’t miss cable. There hasn’t been a single day that I’ve wished we still had it. In fact, I could kick myself for not cancelling it sooner!

  10. It never fails to amaze me how some people *get* these decisions and convictions of ours and how some truly don’t. I think that is one of the biggest blessings if you will, of building online community, there is instant camaraderie, a shortcut to friendship because we get it. So thankful (though even in saying this I don’t mean I’m happy you get the responses you do from family & friends) to know we are not alone, others have less than supportive, even though loving, friends and family too. Thanks for sharing your experiences and really looking forward to your interview with Kirk! :)

    • Yes Gena, the online communities have truly fueled me to keep going down the path I’m on. Like you said, there is an instant camaraderie because we can immediately find like minded people. Plus it’s faster than convincing the people already in our lives to accept the changes.

      I’m excited for Kirk’s interview too. I’m curious as to how he’ll answer the questions to be honest! ;)

  11. Travis @Debtchronicles

    Great, great post…and it makes me giggle to myself. Some of our closest friends know about and understand our debt situation. Some of our friends (but not in the ‘inner circle’) do not. I was at the bus stop talking. I was describiing for one of my “not inner circle friends” something my daughter said that morning. Then, before I knew it I uttered the words, “There’s a blog entry in there somewhere.” Next thing I know, I’m talking personal finance, twitter and blogging with my neighbors. They were rather surprised at what I was telling them. Slowly, I’m letting more people from my “real” world into my digial world. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about that….

    • Hey Travis! You’re braver than I am. I haven’t mentioned any of this to my neighbors. I figure my friends and family know me well enough that they’ll adapt to my changes and love me anyway. :)

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  13. Love your post, Jenny, and I completely relate to it, but not in terms of debt repayment and life simplification. It’s the idea of blogging itself that has my family and friends scratching their heads! I think what makes it tough for them is that they all still see me as the software engineer that I was and not the writer that I’ve been for the past 4 years!

    But as far as killing debt and decluttering, my circle (even the neighbours!) are all on the same page. We all want the simple, debt-free life. It’s nice. :)

    • Hi Nenette,

      That’s awesome that the people in your circle have the same perspective as you on clutter and debt. I’m sure that makes it so nice to be able to talk about these things with the people closest to you.

      I think a lot of my family members are confused as to what a blog even is, but they’re aren’t at all surprised that I’m writing. It’s all I’ve ever really been passionate about. ;)

      • The one drawback of having friends and family in declutter mode is that they try to give you stuff they don’t need! In our case, it’s computer equipment. Our friends are our old university friends from engineering school, and I swear, the same outdated CPU case has made its rounds twice through the group! LOL :)

        • That’s funny that you’ve all been passing around the same old CPU Nenette! It might be time to find a new home outside of your circle for that clutter creator. ;)

  14. Hi Jenny,

    Awesome post!!! I get weird looks all the time, and the ever-present question: “Why?” Sometimes it’s infuriating and sometimes it’s funny. Some people don’t get it but are mildly supportive, and some people don’t get it and are downright confrontational about it. You can almost see them squirming and getting all defensive.

    I haven’t had Cable TV for about 5 years, and it’s not coming back anytime soon. But I would DIE without my Internet, and I proudly admit it to anyone who asks. Netflix and Hulu keep me entertained, and Twitter is fast becoming my primary source of news and worthy web links. I love my digital life and I definitely believe it makes me a better person, because I have many tools that “augment my humanity” (Oh, EvBo would be so proud!) and allow me to do and be so much more. We are living very exciting times, and it’s only going to get better. :-D


  15. Oh, and I just got rid of my car last November, and I’m loving the freedom!!! Rather than miss it, I am thankful every single day for not having that cross to bear anymore. I still get strange reactions from people when I tell them I don’t own a car. Some people just don’t get it.

    • Hey Rick! That’s awesome that you got rid of your car. We don’t have any public transportation in our county (the next county over does), so we need to have cars right now. I say right now, because I’ve been working on Kirk to agree with going down to one car — that would be huge progress!

      And I know what you mean about some people getting downright confrontational about your choices. I’ve noticed a lot of that too. It’s like they’re getting defensive because they think we’re going to force our ideas on them, or we’re judging them for choosing differently. And really, that’s just not the case at all!

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