The myth of slow living and minimalism
Can slow living be the last desperate hurrah of print, the so-called dying medium?
Every form of new media has come to announce that print is dead. It’s the recurring adage of the decade, what you’d call the selling propaganda of the digital age. Everywhere, we find evidence of this timely death: hard copies left untouched and rotting on the shelves, publications scrambling to digital platforms so as not to be rendered obsolete. The rise of the virtual space, with its multi-browser screens, 140-character tweets, and countless selfies liked and shared, is the only thing keeping pace with how we live—or is it that the Internet was in itself the prompt for us to live at lightning speed?
It’s been over a decade of witnessing the slow death of the printed page. Yet in recent years, a couple of independent publications from abroad—distinguished by heavy paper stock and pages populated by bearded men and waif-like women—seem to suggest a different claim. You’d recognize these indie titles; they’ve taken the world over with themes of community, nature, gathering, gardening, and cycling. Ten years ago, we would’ve called these topics trite; yet what we once shrugged off as mundane, we now hold as their greatest merit.
While digital has declared the death of print, some indie magazines have set off a revolution, lauding ideals that seem to oppose the digital era’s way of life. Holding slow living as their creed and minimalism at their core, on the pages are women picking flowers like it’s an art, and communities hosting outdoor gatherings like it’s the last spiritual communion with the growing world. Tim Murphy in The New York Times put it bluntly: these are “things that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Tom Sawyer once considered chores,” an indulgent, photodriven plunge into “prairie porn.”
Everything now is revered as art, that “the art of breathing” might just be a plausible subject for a winding prose. One thing, however, that these magazines religiously document is the trend of making niche and indie the new norm. There’s a growing fixation for everything artisanal and organic, craft items, single-origin chocolate bars, and farm-to-table fare, the idea further romanticized by kitschy vintage labels and designs, that drinking artisanal coffee might as well be called poetic.