Information Hoarding: The OCD of a New Generation

The other day I was sitting with a friend of mine who’s a DJ/producer. We got onto the topic of how much his laptop has slowed down over the years, and how he should really wipe it clean to speed it up. The question is: will he actually reformat, or will his fear of losing something important beat him back into procrastination?


Then it occurred to me: we all have that same mindset regarding our digital belongings. I’ve certainly gone through that exact thought process before: Shit, this computer is sooo slow I need to reformat it…but what if I forgot to back something up. When I realize that I don’t have it anymore, I’m gonna wanna smash my face through this screen for being so stupid – Fuck it, I’ll just man up and deal with the slowness.

I asked around, through friends of all races, creeds, and genders, and everyone expressed some element of hesitance at wiping their precious computer clean and starting from the beginning all over again. No where was that fear more apparent than in these very offices of The Campus Socialite. I mean, we’re no bitches over here – in real life we’re just a bunch of badass dudes…but we get real serious when it comes to the endless libraries of data that we collect on hard drives, email accounts, and the like.


The general consensus is: We’re an entire generation of hoarders – we just hide it really well because all of our OCD is redirected to the digital realm. Forget the days of crazy people on A&E collecting 50 years of junk mail and boxes: we’ve got email accounts packed with thousands of untouched emails (in the rare case you actually need that random email from some music management company), and a clusterfuck of files and folders, not organized in any specific or neat way.

The next logical question is “how do I bring myself to delete all this useless crap?” I’m no psychologist, so what I gave my DJ friend is the same answer I’ve seen the behavior specialists on Hoarders use a million times: Have someone who doesn’t care about your shit do it for you. Then have someone else take you out to the mall or a movie, go get plastered at the bar, smoke a massive blunt, take a Xanax, etc. – whatever will take your mind off the fact that someone who doesn’t care about your personal belongings is currently going through them and getting rid of everything you’ve grown to need on a daily basis.


Wait, you’re not getting off that easy, there’s one more problem – Your computer is all spankin’ new and clean, but how are you going to prevent yourself from doing it all over again? I still haven’t quite figured that part out. Our brains are all hardwired to collect meaningless crap, and nothing makes it easier than laptops with terabyte hard drives.

So if you have found a way to have all the fun of computer use without ever having to save things and hide them away for some unknown time in the future, I’m dying to know your secret. Let’s get a debate going: Do you consider yourself an information hoarder? How do you handle all the shit that collects in the corners of your hard drive?

Tags : dataHoardersInformation