I am afraid I have become a digital hoarder

After confronting myself with my digital media usage on my last blog I decided to continue falling down the same rabbit hole. Just that this time I would focus on the amount of data that I (maybe unnecessarily) storage. This led me to reflect on the documents that I keep on my devices and to question to what extent this way of engaging with said documents is normal.

Most people enjoy collecting their memories through saving pictures, videos, old chats, etc in their devices such as phones or computers. This is by no means a new occurrence since that is exactly what we used to do in the analog era just that back then it was saved in physical photo albums. Hence, it is safe to say that it is normal to want to cherish the moments in your life through the collecting of some sort of memorabilia.

Nonetheless, at some points, I do wonder whether I cross the line. Specifically, when thinking about the accumulation of digital data that I have in my devices (which unlike physical objects, is at times able to fly under the radar). When I think about how I use my storage I realize that that the attachment I have with this data is somewhat absurd. For example how I use my digital storage does not only consist of saving old pictures, but also the banal things like the contact info of people with whom I have not spoken to in years, or phone applications I rarely use.

This tendency to keep unnecessary information leaves me wondering why is it that it is so easy to just let your devices accumulate information. Maybe it is due to the lack of visibility of this information. Because even though you might cherish the pictures you took while on holiday, is it really that important to save thirty copies of a slightly different sunset picture? I do not really have an answer for that, but I do know that at some point this data becomes mostly invisible and, is extremely easy to forget you even have it.

However, one could argue that it is not that easy to accumulate unnecessary data, due to the limited storage space in most devices. To an extent, this might be true, and this might be the one factor preventing most people from saving information that is of no use to them. Nevertheless, there are ways of expanding your storage capacity, through upgrades or though external memory drives. So, is it that much of an obstacle to have limited built-in storage capacity?

Whether it is due to emotional attachment or maybe even due to simply forgetting what you keep, it is extremely easy to accumulate digitally.  This is a problem that for most people flies under the radar, but I think that people should start dealing with what they decide to store in a similar way that they would do with the things that they keep physically. Of course, that with this I do not mean that we should all start applying the Marie Kondo method to our cell phones or computers. Instead, I mean that we would benefit from being more mindful about what we decide to keep digitally.

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4 Comments

  • Lowry Hazlewood
    Posted October 6, 2020 at 7:07 am 0Likes

    The topic you raised in your blog is not something I have considered before, but definitely something I can relate to. I think its a really interesting point to raise as I’m sure it’s the case with many device users nowadays that we rely on things such as large phone storage capacity and iCloud to store data which although we don’t actively need to keep, we want to store anyway. I think this blog is a useful read for starting the process of mindfulness towards our phones, and acknowledging that perhaps in future we can consider more carefully how many redundant apps or versions of the same picture we actually need! Thank you for raising this interesting point, it was good to read!

  • therese
    Posted October 6, 2020 at 12:39 pm 0Likes

    I find myself hoarding pictures on my phone more than anything else. Its a selection of memories and good times that I love having the ability to look through every now and then, although in reality I rarely do so. I never heard it be put that way, but it is absolutely true that we can hoard digitally as well as we can hoard in real life. I’m definitely a real-life hoarder too, saving things like candy wrappers, train tickets, front pages of news papers, coasters or other mundane things that remind me of both special and quite unspecial times. The fact that this translates into digital behavior is not something I was aware of, but it makes a lot of sense. My phone is always too full to download anything new, so maybe this does keep my behavior somewhat in check, when I have to choose something to delete to make space for something new. Interesting post, you made me reflect on something new with it!

  • Stephanie Scholtes
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 11:41 am 0Likes

    This is so relatable for me. Saving al my pictures in a nicely organized map gives me so much comfort, but how much do I actually look back on it? To be honest, not that much. In special I recognize this behavior from concerts I’ve visited long before we were aware of the term social distancing. During those concerts everybody was constantly filming, sometimes even whole songs. This left me wondering: do you ever look back on hours of concert footage? Are you living in the moment as much as I do? This caused me to make a rule for myself that I always follow when I am at a concert: I am allowed to film ten seconds of each song max, so that I have the memory, but also live in the moment and fully enjoy the concert itself. This works really well for me. Therefore I totally agree that it can be beneficial to be aware of the digital memories they are collecting.

  • Niki
    Posted October 7, 2020 at 1:36 pm 0Likes

    I always think about this… I think I’m such a digital hoarder. I think reading this blog makes us aware of our personal behaviour and approach towards our phones and other digital devices. I feel like we need to become more mindful about these issues because it is genuinely concerning that we are so attached to our pictures, especially the random sunset ones. I understand the sentiments and memories that come along with a photo but we need to learn to be able to differentiate between the memory and then the repetitive blurry photo of the same memory. I think a decluttering of our phones is necessary. Similar to how we do it in real life, spring cleaning, we need to apply that to all of the aspects of our life.

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