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British style writer Neil Boorman has decided to burn every branded thing in his possession. "I am addicted to brands," he confessed in a magazine article: "From an early age, I have been taught that to be accepted, to be lovable, to be cool, one must have the right stuff. At junior school, I tried to make friends with the popular kids, only to be ridiculed for the lack of stripes on my trainers. Once I had nagged my parents to the point of buying me the shoes, I was duly accepted at school, and I became much happier as a result. As long as my parents continued to buy me the brands, life was more fun. Now, at the age of 31, I still behave according to playground law."

Boorman finally realized that the happiness found in his possessions is hollow and short-lived, leaving him with a "continual, dull ache." So he's taking drastic action and turning to a life of simplicity. He summarizes: "The manner in which we spend our money defines who we are. ...In this secular society of ours, where family and church once gave us a sense of belonging, identity, and meaning, there is now Apple, Mercedes, and Coke. ...So, this is why I am burning all my stuff. To find real happiness, to find the real me.

Video: Brand Burning. Lori Quicke, Wheaton, Illinois; source: Neil Boorman, "Bonfire of the Brands," BBC Magazine (8-29-06).

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