Digital Hoarding? It’s a Thing Now

Most of us are plenty agreeable with letting things go when it’s time to let them go, unless of course it has some sentimental value like something your grandfather gave you or the very first one you had of whatever it is. But usually when we talk about hoarding, we’re talking about tangible objects, meaning things that you can hold in your hands or at the very least physically touch. It’s not uncommon for the scope of things to expand, and in this case, technology has made it so that with hoarding it appears you can hoard inanimate objects too.

We wouldn’t be talking about this here if it didn’t have some connection to the digital world and data storage, and but it seems that digital hoarding is now a thing. The old stereotype of a hoarder also having far too many cats in a house with little if any space to move around has to go now, as these new types of hoarders are likely going to be living lives just as normal as the rest of us. This does have everything to do with how the demand for data storage has been met with more it, but there are some that want to be retaining more than they’d need.

This is a topic that we can relate to here at 4GoodHosting, and in much the same way that any good Canadian web hosting provider would give the fact that data storage is front and center for all of us. It certainly should be something to be used judiciously, but that’s just not the case as it with so many things in life where one is able to have a ‘possession’ – animate or inanimate in this case.

What’s to be done? That’s what we’ll look at with our blog entry here this week as we go over what is likely an entirely new term for all of you – digital hoarding.

As data storage has become more accessible than ever, the amount of digital “stuff” we all have stashed away is on the rise, too—for many of us, it’s becoming more unwieldy by the day.

More Bytes

This is definitely a new phenomenon that reflects the times we’re living in, and digital hoarding is defined as the need to acquire and hold onto digital content while having no intended purpose for it. It is then related to the way we interact with digital content through our smartphones, social media and messaging apps and the behavior is exacerbated by it.

Like so many other aspects of our lives these days, social media platforms are a very negative influence in this area too. They are at the forefront of what encourages hoarders to behave this way, as some people become overly attached to the digital content being shared with others, and look no further than photos with lots of shares or likes. The sheer volume of content creation is immense, and is there any way that it can be managed responsibly?

It’s creating a brand-new type of clutter that’s not as easily cleaned or tidied up, and for obvious reasons. Traditional hoarding is said to be a persistent difficulty in discarding one’s possessions, and it’s a legit mental health disorder. The thought of getting rid of the ‘stuff’ causes them mental distress, and as such they strongly resist doing it.

Making It Digital

Digital hoarding happens when the person constantly acquires digital content, isn’t inclined at all to discard it, and accumulates digital content for the primary reason of similarly acquiring it. Newfound experts on this claim that this tendency can spiral out of control in the same way it can be for physical-item hoarders and they say there are a number of foremost reasons for this.

It seems individuals are less likely to notice space limitations in the digital world. The boundaries of a physical space may be clear, but they’re much less clearly defined in the digital space. Plus, hoarding of physical objects happens in fixed boundaries, but digital spaces can expand quite easily and without much resistance if any. Additional digital storage can be obtained with minimum effort at very little or zero cost.

The final factor is how hoarding physical items requires a person to put literal effort into it, and starting with purchasing them or acquiring them by other means. Digital content is different because it is usually either self-created, free, or made available through a subscription. Another important consideration is that digital content can be multiplied very easily, and how that works will need no explanation for most of you.

Inadvertent Hoarder

The combination of being in various formats of digital content plus having an endless capacity to expand storage pairs with people having an increasing emotional attachment to the content. If there is also a lack of a sophisticated retrieval system it may make them apprehensive about deleting this digital content, and then what tends to happen is the person inadvertently starts to become a hoarder.

From there they may be meeting 3 criteria: constant acquiring of digital contents, difficulty discarding it, and having a propensity for digital content clutter.

Constant acquisition – the ongoing gathering of digital content, while paying no attention to its value, purpose, or utility. The electronic medium of it means that people don’t pay much attention to the ramifications of behaving this way. This can include emails, images, videos, and more. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for people to build up more than 40 terabytes (TB) of digital content over time. Content uploaded to social media counts too and is a major factor

Difficulty discarding – most people are very lax about deleting emails and similar moves. Some compulsive digital hoarders will feel there is more value to the contents they have, and they really struggle to discard them.

Clutter propensity – abundant digital contents, often unrelated, are stored in a disordered fashion. Feelings of being disorganized and cluttered in digital spaces don’t have much attention paid to them.

What Can Be Done?

Researchers are finding that digital hoarding can lead to higher levels of anxiety. There has been other research that shows that females are more prone to this than males, and that likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise either. The next consideration is that the number of data storage devices someone owns makes the impact of digital hoarding worse.

Here are tips if you feel you’re becoming a digital hoarder:

  • Try a ‘spring cleaning’ every year, and put some real effort into cleaning up your digital footprint
  • Limit unnecessary digital content
  • Arrange simple mechanisms to organize your files, emails, pictures, and videos
  • Determine how important your many social networks are to you, and try to be particularly objective about it

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