Perhaps the least attractive aspect of this wetshaving game is the near constant encouragement to get things. Razors, brushes, all of the gear associated with this hobby (if that is what it truly is) all have their own “Acquisition Disorder” (or AD). RAD, SAD, BAD, they all stand for one thing: the measurement of fun in terms of how much stuff you buy.
I myself was a quick study, and became a true sufferer of ADs of all shape and size. Razors both safe and not, soaps, and above all stones all served to feed the “passion” I felt about my newfound hobby.
It’s all over now.
What happened, you may ask? How did I shed the endless desire to buy more and more stuff?
Well, as a wise man once said, we covet that which we see. The reason that we want, that we feel driven to acquire, is that we see what our neighbor has (be it a comely wife or a beautiful wedge) and we think “That would look really nice in my hands.” So it stands to reason that one of the main driving forces behind our raging need to get more stuff is the all the pretty stuff we see every day. The SOTD threads, the “Hey, guys, look at this awesome thing!” posts, the hushed discussions of legendary razors stashed away in some out-of-the-way fleamarket stall…it is all as addictive as any drug. And of course, the gratification we get when all those people see our new purchase and tell us how envious they are (Send it my way, I’ll get rid of it for you! ;DLOL!!!1!)…it is effective. It’s skinnerian positive reinforcement at its most basic level. It feels good, man. It feels validating.
I fell hard into that trap, wanting to try what everyone else was raving about, wanting to get what no one else had so I could tell them about it, wanting to feel that dopamine bump. Of course, in the beginning, pure novelty was as big an influence as anything else. When you’ve never even touched a straight razor, any new one is pretty awesome to you. And the shaving creams, oh the creams–all those scents and ingredients and the traditional old labels and the hot new brands…
But as time goes by, as you realize that you can only shave a limited number of times a day, and that there really is only so much talking about it you can do, and the focus shifts from the experience in and of itself, solely to the gear involved. It goes from being a new way to enjoy a great shave, and becomes a way to demonstrate your worth through the things you can buy. It is also, and this is very important, a way to join the club. You can tell everyone “Hey, I got one of those too! Let me be in on it!” whenever you see someone talking about their new Filarmonica or Kronik or Shavemac. Whatever the reason, though, shaving is the last thing people are really thinking about when they buy a new razor, or brush, or even soap.
There are, of course, legitimate aesthetic and historical reasons behind a lot of purchases. I do not for one minute regret purchasing the Tamahagane Iwasaki straight I have, because I admire its maker deeply and appreciate the history and the mastery that went into making it. I feel similarly for my Tanifuji straights, or the work of the nameless man behind my Fuji. These are the works of true master crafstmen. Collectors, real collectors who understand and appreciate their collections for the history and context they represent, have a certain mania to them that goes beyond ADs. But just buying, razor after razor, brush after brush…it’s not right.
I did it, and it wasn’t right.
But I stopped. Not only did I stop buying (I haven’t bought any razor related goods besides replacement safety razor blades in three months), I stopped wanting to buy, for one simple reason. I stopped looking.
There’s no more reason for me to look. I have the razors that mean the most to me. I have tried more hones than any man should. It was only unbridled materialism that drove me past that point, and once I realized it I knew I was being childish. I was giving in to temptation. So I removed the unnecessary temptation. I stopped looking at razors on eBay, I stopped visiting hone shops, I stopped browsing razor sellers’ sites…I haven’t even logged into a wetshaving forum for a couple of months.
All I have now is my blog, Sharpologist.com and the razors and stones I already have, which is pretty much enough for me.
So, how much is enough for you?