For oldsters, the meaning of life is in a self-storage unit

Maybe we own too much stuff.

The self-storage industry is red hot in the United States, a curiously American business because no matter how big our houses get, we still buy more stuff than they can hold.

Wisconsin Public Radio says 90 percent of all self-storage sites are in the U.S.

“It’s important to us to define and understand our world through consumption because we need to consume in order to survive,” says Nancy Wong, a professor of consumerism science in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology. “As we become a more industrialized and sophisticated culture we get to … consume more and more things and it becomes actually a very central part of meaning and well-being in life.”

So the meaning of our lives is in a self-storage unit in some empty strip mall?

Take a stab at that, professor.

“It provides us with a sense of security and gives us a sense of our own history and a sense of continuity,” she said. “It defines relationships and the sense of belonging to others.”

In a storage unit?

Part of the problem is we Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers think our children are going to want our stuff.

They don’t.


Because they’ve got a better grasp of the meaning of life and what defines them.