Poundit Investigates: Are You a Digital Hoarder?
Despite the turtle-paced speed of internet connections in the Philippines, Filipinos still love to download things on their computers and phones. From full seasons of TV series to eBooks, pictures, and games, we end up filling up our devices with stuff that we promise to watch, read, or play someday.
But did you know that when done to the extreme, this act of collecting digital objects can be considered hoarding? No, this is not another episode of Hoarders. Digital hoarding is real and it occurs to many digital natives today.
What is Digital Hoarding?
First we need to define what “hoarding” really means.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarders are “Individuals who hoard quantity of collected items that sets them apart from people with normal collecting behaviors. They accumulate large numbers of possessions that often fill up or clutter active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible.”
Simply put, a hoarder is someone who accumulates too much stuff that they end up making their home or workspace unlivable. The medical definition of hoarding has not yet been expanded to digital objects but several occasions in the past have urged medical professionals to do so.
Found Cases of Digital Hoarding
In 2015, a 47-year-old man took and stored thousands of landscape photographs in his computer and four external hard drives. He never used or looked at the pictures; he just believed that they might useful in the future.
The man, who is unmarried and childless, spent three to five hours a day sorting his photographs, preventing him from living normally and carrying out everyday tasks. He organized so many photos (over 1,000 daily) that he started to feel stress and frustration. He was then diagnosed with ADHD and a digital hoarding disorder.
In an article on Wall Street Journal, Christina Villareal, a cognitive-behavioral therapist said that some of her clients admit spending so much time on games and music that they skip eating and buying food.
Where Does Digital Hoarding Exist?
Digital hoarding exists in virtual spaces where we can keep photos, videos, and other digital stuff. Some of the most common include:
- Browser tabs – too many browser tabs running at the same time
- Computer desktops – refusal to delete unnecessary desktop icons
- Digital photographs – taking and storing too many photos
- Email inboxes – too much email messages, refusal to read and delete
- Software/computer programs/apps – obsession on downloading and keeping programs and apps
- Contacts and saved media on Facebook – adding too many contacts on Facebook and saving too much content that never gets opened or read
What are the Habits of Digital Hoarders?
- They maintain a full desktop recycle bin. Digital hoarders don’t let go of files even if they’re already in the recycle bin. They find it hard to click “empty” because they believe that they might still need their deleted files in the future.
- They don’t get rid of devices even if they’re already broken. Outdated tech devices still have a home with digital hoarders. They keep outdated and broken cameras, computers, and music players even if they have already upgraded their devices.
- They love duplicate files. Digital hoarders need to have duplicates of their files even if they’re just in the same hard drive or computer.
- They have thousands of saved media on Facebook. From 1,000 to over 3,000 of saved photos, videos, and articles on Facebook. Digital hoarders don’t plan on reading or opening them soon.
How Can I Deal With Digital Hoarding?
If you think or if you’re afraid of being a digital hoarder, better take note of the following practices. It’s never too late to turn back from your days of hoarding.
Organize your files and create a system that will allow you to control them in the future. Manage your digital information wisely to prevent you from storing them for a long time. Knowing which files you need and don’t need will help you let go of unused and duplicate content. Do this not only in your computer but your phone as well.
From unpublished selfies to inuman recordings, it’s just so hard to delete files. We know the feeling because we love keeping our documents, photos, and videos as well. (For future reference lang, friend.) However, deleting is one of the most effective ways to deal with digital hoarding. You can start by deleting files, uninstalling apps, and closing tabs that you haven’t looked at or used in the last 30 days. From there, build a maintenance strategy to ensure that every file or app you don’t need goes to the trash bin.
Self-control is the key here. Be picky when saving content and downloading documents. Resist information if you can and only consume media that truly interests you. The internet is a huge (and interesting) buffet of information, which is why setting a personal limit for downloads will help you avoid hoarding digital content.
As what they say, too much of anything is bad for you. Moderation is important even when it comes to digital content and media. Control yourself. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need to have it. There’s a limit to everything, including computer memory, phone applications, and technological devices. Be wise. Don’t be a digital hoarder.