Monday, December 29, 2014

Don’t Be a Data Hoarder

This book The Digital Diet (Souvenir Press, 2011) by Daniel Sieberg is very informative, challenging and interesting. On the subject of Don’t Be a Data Hoarder, Daniel wisely counsels,

“There are many tragic (and extreme) examples of people who can’t throw out a single possession. They live in squalor and filth and often die in that environment. Dealing with something as simple as an old sweater turns into an enormous ordeal. We pity them and wish they could learn to separate ‘the thing’ from the emotion or ‘the thing’ from the person. All too often ‘the things’ take precedence because ‘the things’ don’t talk back or give them grief or cause alarm. But in the twenty-first century there is a new category of this type of obsessive-compulsive behaviour – data hoarding.

Yet we have all become digital pack rats. We have so many digital photos and e-mails we want to save, and with no single place to keep them, we don’t end up deleting anything. We fret over whether we’ll still have this laptop ten years from now or whether a certain format could be read by computers as our grandkids grow up. Or we simply don’t want to delete those e-mails that build a relationship. My wife actually printed out the majority of e-mails and instant messages that we exchanged while courting in 2001. Yes, I was the shy (aka nerdy) co-worker who started the come-hither messages. And while I’m all about saving trees, there was something oddly reassuring about having tangible copies of these irreplaceable moments of our history. I don’t think either of us still have any digital traces of these steamy conversations (it’s a fun read), but I’m not overly worried since we have the scrapbook.

We are going to continue to face this conundrum, as our entire lives are increasingly lived out online. We don’t just have e-mails and instant messages; we have text messages and Facebook posts and terabytes of digital video and photos that build up over time. We buy new external hard drives to accommodate them and attempt to purge some items. We get more space in our Gmail account and forward everything to the ‘cloud.’ And we rarely print stuff out anymore, since it’s time-consuming and sooooooo 2003. Therefore, we’ve all started to exhibit some minor tendencies of a ‘data hoarder.’

Muller has studied a spectrum of these types of personalities (a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder) and attempts to treat them with an extreme type of Digital Diet. Muller believes in ‘acceptance and commitment’ therapy – in other words, getting information hoarders to address their reliance on saving everything and proceed to a place in their life that puts it in perspective. And while the vast majority of us aren’t ‘hoarders,’ we may still keep too much stuff in our in-box or text-message queue or cache. If you eliminate the unnecessary messages and e-crap that are kicking around your various devices, you may actually find it lifts a burden from your brain. Like a mini cleanse. Every time you open those applications it will seem more empowering when you aren’t bogged down by digital leftovers.”

Take Action: Use some of your online time to hit the delete key, and feel the weight lift off your shoulders. Open your e-mail in-box and review messages from the last few weeks. If it isn’t essential in your life or critical to save, then delete it. I challenge you to get your in-box below five to ten unread items. Look at what those messages are saying or doing: Are they reminders? Sentimental? Things you don’t want to deal with? Use your online time wisely and tackle as many as you can. Easier said than done, of course, like a lot of things worth doing. But perhaps we can all learn something from those information hoarders before it’s too late.

After I read this book, I put it into actions.
Yes, now I gain more freedom from the decease of data hoarding
and I have more time for reading and writing. You should try it. All the best.

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