What initially prompted me to think about hoarding and identity was not my realization of my own problems. Rather, I was playing games on Facebook and started seeing more and more virtual animal hoarders. My own zoos, farms or whathaveyous tend to be organized but cluttered (quelle surprise!), but recently I cut out the zoo completely and have started selling off the cattle in Farmville. I play for the social aspect of it, but there is a huge part of these games that has to be tied into the compulsion to collect. For every holiday there is a new goal of collecting as many somethings as you can in order to get something else that is virtually really cool. I don’t remember what I’m saving my virtual Valentines for … if it’s a pink cow or the Eiffel Tower. I don’t have room for either one, anyway.
Digital hoarding is easily hidden. As I posted a few days ago, all of my paper articles are now going into digital format and getting catalogued into my iPad. I’m not as bad as Jenna Wortham’s account in “True Confessions of a Digital Hoarder,” but my inbox that ties together 4 email accounts does currently have 2418 messages with 80 of those marked unread. This does not include the long list of folders in which I have filed important messages. For Christmas I got an external hard drive … let the hoarding of files continue.
This type of hoarding is relatively unseen and physically shouldn’t interfere with relationships and living well. As far as my computer is concerned, my search functions combined with my filing system work well enough that I can quickly find what I need to do my work. At what point, though, could digital hoarding become a hindrance to a satisfying life? When I’m so compelled to snatch up those online animals that need to be adopted that I can’t do other daily tasks? When I can no longer find that important email inviting me to rule the world? What does digital hoarding mean to you?