Monday, May 24, 2010

Confessions of a Hoarder

You may have watched one of those shows on TV about hoarders whose obsession has turned their homes into mazes of stuff, garbage, and trophies of their compulsion.  Perhaps you watched "Clean House' or one of the programs in which someone comes into the dirty, cluttered home to reclaim the space for living.  You may have wondered as you watched, "What kind of person does such things or lives like that?"  Now you can say you know someone like that.  It is me.  But my obsession is not about stuff or things.  I collect emails.  And, I confess, I do not know how to delete them (now, don't write me with instructions on how to actually delete them -- I am speaking of my fear that if I delete this or that email, I will surely need it and will not have it).

I did not fully realize how my obsession had progressed until a computer issue required me to back up my emails and I found that I had in excess of 4,000 emails cluttering the landscape of my Outlook Express (yes, I use that troublesome program that so many love to hate).  I suppose I could delete some of them, well, a lot of them, but that would require going through them and I just don't have the desire or time to do that.  My Inbox is like a file drawer of communications, information, and contact records.  I have grown accustomed to the way I keep these electronic records and I cannot get myself to a place to let them go....

So now you know... I keep emails.  I keep copies of the emails I send (don't have a count on them) and the emails I receive (4,000 plus -- not counting the advertising emails which I gladly delete).  They say that the younger generation is moving away from email to Facebook and the like but every day I get 30-100 personal emails from people regarding a myriad of topics, themes, and occasions.  And I keep them.  It is not like I do not have the space -- they take up barely any space and I have at least 100 Gig or so left for storing these things (and others).

Every now and then something happens to cause me to look up something from my ancient section of my Inbox and then I am vindicated for keeping all of this.  The last time I did any real serious housecleaning of my emails was, well, 2005 or so.  So pray for me... my obsession with electronic media has taken a socially unacceptable form and I know it but, well, I am a hoarder -- what can I say?  I believe I am the only one with this obsession from my family -- so maybe the gene did not pass on.... so it is just me... or maybe some of you share this dysfunction as well?


Dr.D said...

You better look into getting an external harddrive just for all this stuff!

Ted Carnahan said...

Pastor, a bit of friendly advice from a man in ministry with some experience in these matters:

Get a GMail account.

Then find someone who can show you how to transfer your old email over there, and let everyone know that your email address changed. Ask them to set up GMail to let you receive email from the old account as well in the meantime, and take a year for the transition.

Trust me, this will make your life better.

Personally, I have over 36,000 email conversations dating back over 5 years in GMail, which probably amounts to over 100,000 messages. Because you have a search feature, you never have to worry about deleting anything - just archive it.

Good luck managing that inbox!

Past Elder said...

Ted's right about that. Gmail is great!

However, what he says applies if you access it online, which I don't, I access either through Windows Mail (Vista's version of OE) or my Sprint phone.

Mozilla Thunderbird is much the same. I tried it since I use Firefox anyway, but, I could not bring myself to a decision whether to use it like Gmail online or build a folder tree like Outlook products, and when someone told me how it looked as received, I just stuck with Windows Mail.

I use texting as much as email, and FB somewhat but not everyone I email or text is on FB.

But I hate a cluttered inbox, yet loathe archiving or moving to a folder!

Anonymous said...

My hoarding issue is books... I know my pastor son has inherited this compulsion from me... But my husband just doesn't get it... I will be one of those poor souls found under her pile of favorite books. sigh

I love Gmail, is searchable!

Janet said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one out there! Only I also still have files and files of hard copy e-mails I've printed out and hate to throw away because, for example, IF I organize them, they'll serve as a journal of sorts [since I used to copy sent mail, too!]. I keep church newsletters, too, especially ones with new member bios. Then there are the books! [The post by Anonymous could be me!] Not to mention all the blog posts [like yours!] I want to reference.
And I'm no good at filing on the computer, which makes it a challenge as well.

Pastor Peters said...

I actually have 5 active email accounts... a juno account from when I first started, an account with my home broadband, the church account, a gmail account, and a hotmail account... used for all different purposes... the 4,000 plus messages actually includes only the church account, home broadband, and juno...