21 Dragons

In Search of Wisdom

The Digital Clutter

I've always thought of myself as a devout declutterer; I regularly prune away old books and clothes, I throw junk away the moment I get it and I like to keep my desks empty and clean. I even tend to err too much on the side of decluttering by throwing away stuff that I regret later. But I realized something about myself today. While I may be a physical declutter bug, I'm a hoarder in another realm, the one with ones and zeroes. Just a quick glance at my iTunes library tells me that I have a grand total of 2765 songs, most of which have not been listened to, and which iTunes helpfully tells me will take 9.3 days of non-stop 24-hour listening to finish.

That doesn't include the other media I have, like podcasts (306 unwatched TED talks), ebooks (that I bought even!) and the articles (Instapaper Pro rocks!) I saved on my iPhone.

And you know what the best part is? The collection keeps growing.

Good God.

Why this incessant need to keep collecting media? There's no way that I could ever consume all of it. And while the illusion is that digital media is free (yea right, tell that to the $300 external HDD I just bought), it consumes the only nonrefundable resource of all: time.

We're smart animals right? We've solved the Information Age. Now we need to get to the Information Management Age and make sense of all this info-junk. I'd declutter it all but then I'd get really recursive; spending extra time managing stuff that consumes my time so I'd spend less time on it.

I could delete it all, but strangely enough, while throwing away old clothes is easy for me, throwing away old media is not. What the frak is up with this double-standard?