Do I Really Need This?

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Taylor Winchell is just as apt to buy a latest gadget or bauble as anyone, but lately he’s paused to first ask himself one, simple question.

The other day I clicked on an ad for wireless over-ear headphones. They were made by a respected brand and on sale for only $50 — practically a steal. I hovered my mouse toward the ‘buy now’ button. But just before clicking, I stopped.

I already have over-ear headphones, also made by a respected brand. They are six years old, but the sound quality is still great. And yes, they do keep me tethered to a machine with their long, tangle-y wire; but, in reality I only use over-ear headphones while sitting at my desk at work—hardly a time when I need wireless agility.

As it turns out, I have lived my entire life — 26 years’ worth of heartbeats — without wireless over-ear headphones.

It’s something I’ve been trying to remember lately: that every new thing I acquire, or am about to purchase or watch or browse is something I have already made it through every single one of my days without.


A few months ago, I decided to delete my Snapchat account. When I finally got to the delete section of the process, I almost didn’t follow through. But then I remembered the many years I lived just fine without Snapchat, and voila—it was gone.

I am both a millennial and an American, which means I certainly have many things I do not need — like my four guitars, my external computer monitor I haven’t plugged into my laptop in months, or my ever-accumulating collection of duffel bags.

And I will continue to purchase and use things I don’t need. Some of those will make life more enjoyable, some will make life more convenient, and others I will likely regret immediately.

But I’m trying to reduce the quantity of those things, trying to remember that everything I don’t yet have or use is something I never had or used before, and that the wire on my over-ear headphones really doesn’t bother me at all.

With a Perspective, I’m Taylor Winchell.

Taylor Winchell is a water resources scientist and writer living in El Cerrito.