I’m a terrible digital hoarder. I had something ridiculous like 6000 unread messages in my inbox until last month. This was mostly spam or things I had read that I wanted to go back to, or things I had just forgotten to look at. I have known for quite some time that the organisational system I adopted when I started working in Australia was not working at all. I could not trick myself into going back to the so-called new messages because I knew I had already read them. So they accumulated. Before school started this semester, I spent a few hours and deleted all but 3. Now I’m back up to about 8, but I know what is in there. On the other hand, I have more than 16,000 messages in my inbox.
Somehow digital hoarding is not something I can overcome. My computer has so many files on it, even from my student years, that I feel I may someday need with urgency. They have come in handy when giving talks about now defunct websites that deal with memory or in dredging up old teaching materials, but honestly, most just lie there dormant cluttering up my hard drive. They are innocuous because I do not see them, they do not hinder me from moving about, and my computer behaves as if unfettered by their weight. But I think the burden of that endless archive may catch up with me and entrap me like a snowball gaining momentum on its downhill journey.
When I need to relax, I do not partake in edifying behavior. I watch the worst possible television or spend time playing social games on Facebook. Farmville was an initial part of the inspiration to look deeper at hoarding. I could see I was compulsively acquiring virtual animals, and as part of the game requires visits to your “neighbors” farms, I could see their lots were not much better.
Lately I’m more interested in Castleville which is equally pointless and requires collecting. Then my guilty pleasure jumped up and bit me in the face, so to speak. This is the challenge I was issued a couple of weeks ago.
Soap and bedding, really? Never mind. I of course conquered that task without much effort.
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.
a random Farmville hoarder
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?
Posted in hoarding identity, hoarding in the profession
Tagged adopt, animal, delete, digital hoarding, digitize, Facebook, Farmville, hard drive, hoard, iPad, library, living well, sell