When you hear the word hoarder, you tend to picture someone who keeps stacks of newspapers in their living room or bundles of clothes that should have been thrown out years ago. But now that we are in the information age, even hoarding has gone digital. And you my friend might just be a big-time digital hoarder if you exhibit some or all of the following signs:
1. You keep all your emails.
While you know that your inbox is better off uncluttered, you hang on to emails because you might need them in the future. The only problem is that you won’t – many of them are from friends you have lost touch with, exes you wish never existed, and former coworkers/bosses you will probably never work with. And let’s not talk about the number of unread emails lying in your inbox.
2. Literally every folder on your phone or laptop is a folder within a folder within a folder…
Yeah, your idea of organization is dumping a bunch of files in a folder. You think you will deal with it later, but that later never really comes does it? All that happens is more folders within folders. So basically, there is the illusion of a system here, but you know deep down that things have gotten really messy. This is my personal affliction by the way, and trust me, it is as insidious as it sounds.
3. Your list of bookmarked pages goes on forever.
Each time you come across something that catches your eye, you add it to your bookmarks so you won’t forget about it and can easily revisit later. So far so good. But even after you are done reading that article or purchasing that cute outfit, you cannot bring yourself to ‘unsave’ those pages. The result is a list of bookmarks so long that you will take at least a year or two to explore all of them. And it keeps on growing.
4. You are subscribed to newsletters you don’t ever open.
Subscription to most newsletters is free, so why should you bother whether you are actually going to read them or not? Erm actually, you might want to look into that. The sheer volume of updates makes you cringe, but you just can’t get yourself to remove yourself from those mailing lists, can you? I feel your pain.
5. You love freebies too much to pass them up.
Music, movies, podcasts, images, apps, etc – if its free, you gotta have as much of it as you can. Reason and sensibility can go take a hike. You are sure that someday you will be glad you curated so much art, edutainment, and entertainment. Why even your unborn kids will make use of all this content in the future.
6. Your phone has more contacts than you can count.
Your poor phone is full of numbers you barely ever need. It’s probably the only place on earth where your long-lost classmate’s number sits right next to the number of your one-time favorite restaurant. Worse, a couple of people have the same name and you can no longer tell which is which. Thus, you end up texting the wrong person one time too many.
7. You often get lost trying to find what you need.
With all the stuff that you have saved, it takes you some time to find the file or photo you are looking for. On the upside, you do end up developing skills to rival a professional detective and ant level patience and perseverance. Just kidding, this is actually one of the most irksome downsides of being a hoarder.
8. You are afraid to use the delete button.
Despite the headache of not being able to find anything quickly on your devices, you do not hit delete on things you no longer need. Even though they are a serious time suck, you continue to hoard stuff like songs you no longer like and movies you will never watch again.
9. You have more photo albums than a professional photographer.
You have all the photos of all the places you have ever visited in your life – including the changing room in that mall you last visited. Yes, somehow you are convinced that you have to retain the blurriest and most unflattering shots you have ever taken. You even have duplicate copies of your favorite photos on different devices just in case some device gets stolen, lost or unusable.
10. You own more storage devices than one person should.
Because you never get rid of old data and new data keeps coming in regularly, you have no option but to buy more storage devices to accommodate all of it. That leaves you with a couple of pen drives, external hard disks, and of course, subscription to a bunch of cloud storage services.
11. You have a small shrine devoted to all your old gadgets.
Why sell or recycle devices you no longer use when you can keep them for old times’ sake, right? A sizable section of your home contains your childhood game boy, an outdated computer, the smartphone that crashed on you, and so on. You think it’s cute to keep these things for the sake of nostalgia, but in reality, you just cannot bear to part with them.
12. You are too ashamed to tell anyone about this problem.
Even as you try to rationalize your hoarding, on some level you are aware that what you are doing is unhealthy, a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. You wish you never had this obsession and just want it to be over. As hard as it is, the only way to make that happen is to let someone you trust know so they can help you deal with it. It might sound silly, but it is a real problem – a simple Google search will clear that up. Don’t be afraid to get the help you need.