I can no longer suffer in silence. I have what I call D.I.H. — Digital Information Hoarding. In self-diagnosing myself, I was presumptuous enough to think I had discovered a new psychological phenomenon. That was quickly put to rest after a Google search netted 608,000 results already confirming its existence.
The great and all-knowing Wikipedia refers to the condition simply as “digital hoarding or e-hoarding … (an) excessive acquisition and reluctance to delete electronic material no longer valuable to the user. The behavior includes the mass storage of digital artifacts and the retainment of unnecessary or irrelevant electronic data.” Yep, that’s me!
One need only refer to the 22,118 messages in my email’s in-box to confirm this diagnosis; 3,022 of which I have yet to open because they’re usually just coupons — 90 percent of which have already expired. That leaves 19,096 emails I’ve read but haven’t deleted. Why? Because … I … can’t! Come on, I might need that information one day, right? Oh, if thousands of saved emails were my only problem. Let’s move on to the “mass storage of digital artifacts.”
Everything I download is saved to my computer’s desktop. Do I delete the files when I’m done using them? No. Do I create folders to put them in? Yes, but only after all the files on my desktop cover up the screen saver photo of my kids. These folders are always labeled “stuff” with a date, like “November 2015 Stuff.” What’s in these folders? I don’t know. I don’t look at their contents. But make no mistake, it’s really important stuff. Oh, if folders labeled “stuff” were my only problem. Let’s move on to the saved files on my iPhone’s notes app.
My phone is where I digitally write “to-do” lists, reminders and creative thoughts. Currently I have 82 notes saved on my phone. Do I read them? No. Do I print them? Sometimes. Then do I read them? Almost never. As a matter of fact, the notes linger in limbo for so long that I eventually handwrite a note to myself that says “read the notes on your phone.” It gets worse. I have actually emailed myself reminders to read my notes. (Note to self: I have a serious problem.)
When I finally put aside time to actually read my notes, the nightmare really begins. Why? Because I don’t understand my own notes. Thanks to the wonder that is spellcheck, my computer or iPhone autocorrects my poorly typed messages creating different, often bizarre words.
For example, I have a note on my phone that reads: “ramzi dalloo.” I Googled those words and they actually exist! It would take someone proficient in deciphering codes to resurrect the true content of my messages.
Finally, there’s the impact my digital hoarding habit has on my ability to DVR television shows. Inevitably I end up confronting the dreaded pop-up message: “You only have 1 percent of your total recording space left. You may want to delete some recordings.” Excuuuuuuuse me?! I’m about to record America’s Got Talent and you want me to (insert chilling sound effect from the shower scene from the movie Psycho) delete something! I can’t do that to the 27 episodes of Colombo, The Twilight Zone and the latest Tigers game … OK, maybe I could delete the Tigers game.
Are you a fellow digital hoarder? If so, I feel your pain. Email me and share your story. But not today; I already have 1,217 old emails to catch up on. *
Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, emcee and a regular guest host on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR AM 760. Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com and “Like” Al on Facebook.