I have a disease. A cybernetic disease.
It’s called ‘information hoarding.’ There is no known cure…
Well, in so far as I don’t know what it is, anyway. I am the center of my own universe, so if I don’t know it, it is not known.
As a byproduct of my job, my inquisitive nature, and my lazy OCD (it’s a lot like normal OCD, just with a much lower threshold for difficulty — “wash my hands six times? That sounds hard. I think I’ll just make sure all my pens are pointing the same direction, thanks.”) I keep building up massive libraries of links that I have no idea what to do with. If somebody shows me something interesting, my first response isn’t “wow! Amazing!” it’s “you should send that to me.” I’m convinced I have a use for half of the things I see on the internet — and brother, if you’ve seen the internet, you realize how hilariously wrong that entire concept is. Being a columnist at Cracked means I have more of a potential use for information than some (I do have a very beefy column doc where I collect information that relates to a few dozen different premises I’m kicking around at any given point) but it doesn’t justify the kind of hoarding I do. If insane gifs and fringe scientific breakthroughs were empty pizza boxes and mason jars, I would be buried under a glass and cardboard avalanche of my own making. I use Dropbox, Instapaper, and Reddit saved links daily — that’s right: I utilize three different platforms just to hoard obscure facts about space and pop culture. And the worst part is that the hoarding instinct started getting in the way of utility. I don’t actually intake or share any of this information. Partly because I collect too much of it: I can’t possibly read everything I save in a given week. That’s madness! But I can’t lose it! What if I need it someday?!
And those are the exact words of the crazy cat lady trying to justify her collection of sweater catalogues to an impatient psychiatrist.
The other pitfall is that I end up not reading this stuff specifically because I have a means of saving it for later. Instapaper has become shorthand for “I will never, ever read this, but nice try!” Reddit’s saved links have become shorthand for “I don’t really watch videos on my phone, but if I did, I would probably watch this!” Dropbox has become shorthand for “remember to feel guilty later that you don’t have the patience to read through an entire academic paper.” I browse and save more information than ever before, and I feel like I’m taking in less of it every day.
But today, I’m doing something about it. I am done with Reddit. No more Instapaper. I need Dropbox for work, but that’s the extent of its function. If I want to read about science, I’m going to have to manually check my science bookmarks and actually scan through (or at least glance at the headlines and pretend to understand very basic summaries of) the articles there. I am no longer going to fool myself into thinking that a gif of a Chinese man crashing a scooter into a ditch will somehow further my career. I am probably still going to be a lazy and ignorant piece of shit, but god damn it – I’m at least going to be lazy and ignorant myself, instead of relegating my lazy ignorance to technology.
Who’s with me?!
N…nobody? This is the ultimate first world problem, and I should alternate between shutting up and feeling bad about my priorities? Oh, all right then. I’ll get started promptly.