Science & Tech

What’s a digital hoarder and are you one of them?

What’s a digital hoarder and are you one of them?
Gmail Can Now Spam-Proof Politicians' Emails

You have probably heard of hoarding belongings but have you heard of digital hoarding?

Probably not but perhaps you should, given the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) recognises it as a mental illness.

The concept is basically when people have trouble deleting pictures, emails and other apps they don't use from their phones.

Experts reckon people hoard for different reasons, and it is more common among millennials than Gen Xers, but Dr. Darshana Sedera, the deputy dean and director of the Digital Enterprise Lab at Southern Cross University, Australia, has warned that doing it could have negative consequences.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

“When one suffers from the symptoms of digital hoarding [constant acquisition, difficulty of discarding, clutter propensity] there is a strong likelihood that he or she will experience adverse mental or psychological conditions,” Sedera said.

And a lot of it is caused by office culture. “A lot of digital hoarding is driven by the workplace: endless emails and circulating documents with people often unsure about data retention, storage and deletion policies,” psychologist Dr. Nick Neave said. “People often send files to everyone as they are worried about ‘missing people out’ or to be viewed as not doing a ‘good job.’

“This creates an environment where most employees retain digital data that they do not need — and can be a major problem in terms of data protection. And the environmental costs of running servers crammed with digital data is mostly unnecessary.”

So are you a digital hoarder? If you are, maybe it is time to stop.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)