The Virtual Life

That’s right: not the virtuous life — though it may be that — but the virtual one. Those of you who are considering opening a virtual law office might like to go that extra furlong and emulate Kelly Sutton, who has sold pretty much everything he owned and now lives a life enhanced by not much more than a bike and a computer.

The BBC has just picked up on the Sutton saga, that began over a year ago, when, stimulated by a book on escaping the 9-5 work drag, he set himself the project of selling off his possessions, with the signal exception of his computer. On his (appropriately minimalist) Cult of Less website, he lists all his belongings, tagging some as sold, some as for sale, and some as being keepers.

And, as those who’ve shunned the high overhead of law offices will attest, there’s a lot we’re accustomed to that we don’t in fact require. Because Sutton is young, the story of his transformation focuses a good deal on the replacement of books and CDs by internet content. But any tour of a typical middle class house (or office) will reveal much underused and unnecessary stuff.

On the other side of the argument, there’s the matter of comfort (which seems likely to be the job of the blue chair) and visual art (which isn’t fungible with a screenshot of a Vermeer), of course. And Mr. Sutton does’t talk much about how he keeps and prepares food — if in fact he does. Too, Mr. Sutton has no children, which allows for a somewhat more toy-free environment.

So should you practice in the park? Likely not. But for me, at least, there’s something important in this reminder that, even in a society that seems to have as its most important activities shopping and television, it’s possible to resist the worst of commodity fetishism — provided, I suppose, that what counts is sublimated into the information aether (and viewed on a Mac?).


  1. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the writeup and the kind words!

    Kelly Sutton