Hoarding: One Woman’s Manifesto

How many of you watched “Hoarders” on A&E? Be honest! I bet most of you. I have. It’s like looking at a smooshed kitten on the side of the road—you can’t help stare at the horror even though you’d rather stab your eyes with toothpicks to keep from seeing it.

Thankfully the docuseries ended in 2013 so we’ve all been spared further heebie jeebies. Until the next equally disgusting reality show comes along. “Dating Naked” on VH1 looks promising. (Is “reality show looks promising” an oxymoron? Are you a moron for watching it? That’s on your conscience…mine is clear.)

Last year my husband lost his corporate drone job and we decided to downsize so we could lead a more frugal and “real” life—and so we could afford the occasional Americano from Zanzibar’s. We went from a 2,300 square-foot home to a 1,400 square-foot apartment. If you want to see an example of what the opposite of our “cottages” look like, take a read through Sharon Hughson’s recent blog post where she let her readers into the world of Portland’s Street of Dreams.

We had to get rid of a lot of stuff, including entire rooms and an entire floor (like a library, fourth bedroom and basement) most of which we’ve realized a year later we really didn’t need.

The point is, I do not hoard. I can get rid of useless, unnecessary crap with the best of them. With the exception of my one vice. My one obsession.

The reading list on my Safari browser.

It is enormous.

It is ridiculous.

It is out of control.

And I blame you, you Internet bastard.

Like most people, I have a bunch of blogs I read, authors I follow, websites I like, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Unfortunately, I follow, friend or circle some kickass, generous people who share good shit.

On any given day, I can easily add ten to fifteen tidbits of I-can’t-live-without-you knowledge to my reading list. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider I’ve been active online only since late February, that’s about…

180 days X 10 items added per day = who the hell am I kidding

I know this isn’t any huge revelation, in and of itself—I’m a writer and writers like to read. We all have gazillions of books in our TBR (to be read) piles.

But my obsession goes beyond my physical TBR pile and Safari reading list.

It’s Safari bookmarks too.

I have an odd system for which pieces of info I put where:

  1. Reading list items are entertaining, quick hits that I’ll eventually delete once I’ve read them. Kind of like articles in People magazine, but much higher quality, of course.
  2. Bookmarks are more like reference material in the Smithsonian or Chicago Public Library (which was named the nation’s best urban public library system in a recent German university study): tomes that will enrich my life and that I’ll go back to time and again.

But then somewhere along the way it got all mixed up and I just started shoving links any old place that sounded good at the moment.

Why, if it’s so easy for me to let go of tangible objects, do I feel compelled to keep all these digital tchotchkes?

Because I’m afraid I’ll miss out on a critical piece of information.

I have this feeling that if I just read one more blog post or website article about what it takes to be a better blogger, author, wife, mother, etc. then I’ll unlock the magical key to perfection and easy street.

But what I’m finding is I rarely go back to read what I’ve saved and, most importantly, put it to use.

I’m like a squirrel collecting nuts in the fall.

At least those little bastards go back to their stashes and actually use them.

squirrel with nut

This guy knows a good thing when he finds it.
Photo Credit: Pieter v Marion via Compfight cc

All this information hoarding is making me anxious—like that squirrel would be if he knew he had to cross six lanes of traffic to get his booty home.

It also makes me feel like a failure. I have all these digital delicacies just waiting to be scarfed up and then purged into a suitable receptacle (otherwise known as my brain) and I’m not doing jack with them. And you know what they say: A brain is a horrible thing to waste. Unless you’re eating it. Not like Hannibal Lecter. More like the French.

My one consolation is that at least my hoarding doesn’t involve turning my house into a giant litter box or making it smell like Uncle Ted died in his BarcaLounger thirty years ago and nobody took him out.

So today I’m making the case that the Internet must stop creating content.

Just stop it.

You’re like a frickin rabbit. Or a trillion of them.

There is already so much that even if the average person read a gazillion blog posts, articles, etc. per day for her entire life, she’d never get through it all. That’s a statistical fact…kind of. Just look at this sweet infographic and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating.


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