Latest Issue

Glitch 2021  •  13 May 2021

My Life As a Digital Hoarder

By Erin Ewen

I wake up to my phone vibrating. I forgot to turn on Do Not Disturb last night when I fell asleep watching Aladdin (1992). I’ve contorted my body into the shape of an avant-garde pretzel to stop my laptop from falling off the edge of the bed. I’m really glad I bought Disney+. And by bought, I mean, I’m glad I have access to my boyfriend’s account.
I need to pee, so I get up, trying hard not to wake him.
“Can you pass my phone?” he mumbles to me as I slide back into bed. 

Now my wrist is vibrating. It’s the daily alarm I’ve set on my FitBit. A little bird flashes on the screen, chirping. Or maybe it’s playing the trumpet. I can’t remember because I always silence it so quickly. The buzzing really annoys me. Gotta take my pill. 

I’ve already seen three different videos about baked feta pasta. 

18,629 unread emails. I try not to look at the number when I open my Outlook. It overwhelms me. I scroll through my inbox, past new emails from Menulog, Facebook, eBay, Glassons, Sydney Opera House, Indeed, Domino’s and Moshtix. I make a mental note to separate my spam from the rest of my emails. 

Some people collect old newspapers, Pokemon cards, or shoes. My hoarding problem is far more insidious. I keep data. Emails, photos, messages. I have a strict aversion to deleting anything from my phone or computer that I might one day need. Apparently, this includes a 2 for 1 pizza voucher that expired three years ago. Or, multiple pictures of an old man holding a giant onion. 

I open Facebook. My notifications are mostly from random people, talking on pages I don’t actually care about. Someone’s looking for a new housemate on FairyFloss. I left Melbourne over eight months ago. I hover over some messages I received days before. Should probably respond
to those today. I make another mental note. 

My to-do list is up to date. My tasks sit in neat little rows, waiting to be ticked off. I watch the fourth video about baked feta pasta for the day. When did Instagram even get the reels update? I can’t remember what I used to spend my time doing before it. 

Okay, well I didn’t start on the hour so I’ve gotta wait until 11, obviously. I watch videos on Youtube about how to be more productive.

Your disk is almost full 

It’s been doing that for a while. Without a second thought, I click ignore, and the notification on the top right hand corner of my screen disappears. For now. The yellow warning sign clearly isn’t enough to motivate me to trawl through years of files. 

Okay, no, seriously. I need to start working. I open my Gmail. Oh my God, why is Youtube sending me so many emails? Wait, no. Wrong inbox. I open my other Gmail. Mark as important. Update to-do list. 

My desk plant has a new sprout! I go to take a photo, but my phone storage is full. Shit. I’ve really gotta sort that. I wonder where my hard drive is? 

I think about the almost immeasurable weight of my phone as I put it back in my pocket. I carry years of junk with me at all times.

Sometimes, I think about the scope of my digital footprint, and quite frankly, it scares me. I remember the iMac photo shoots uploaded to MySpace. The keyboard warrior arguments with strangers on Facebook. My ‘About Me’ tab on Tumblr from 2014. My chest starts to hurt a little. Are my Neopets dead? Has the Hotmail I made when I was 11 been hacked? Hey Google, how do I track down every photo of someone, ever uploaded to the internet? Asking for a friend. 

And yet, even the things I can control, I let fester, until I’m routinely pressing that sweet little ignore button while I’m four Bridgerton (2020) episodes deep. 

I’m the only one being hurt by this kind of procrastination. And yet, I seemingly refuse to change. I need Mari Kondo to declutter my digital life. 

Pee break. On my way back to my desk, I find myself laying on my bed, scrolling. Get up, I think. Baked feta pasta,
replies TikTok. 

Somehow, I reach a point where the dent in my to-do list feels satisfactory. I close my laptop with a sigh, as if I’m not about to spend the next few hours staring into its screen again. 

We decide to watch The Thing. It’s on Amazon Prime, which is perfect, because I’m already subscribed. I know this, because they take $6.99 out of my account every month. I’ve never actually streamed anything on Amazon Prime, I just wanted a discounted book for my Kindle, and accidentally signed up. 

I can’t remember my password. This is a common occurrence. I try to recover it, but it requires me to input a special code sent to the number I had when I set up the account. That number is connected to an overseas SIM card I had one-and-a-half years ago. I can’t update my details without authenticating the account. I chastise myself for being so disorganised. I’m too afraid to go on Putlocker because I don’t want to get a virus on my computer. I have too much important stuff on there. We decide to watch Twilight instead. 

We continue with back-to-back episodes of Parks and Recreation. I start to get a bit of headache and think maybe I should buy those blue light blocking glasses. They’ll probably do the trick. 

“Where did we get up to in Aladdin last night?” My boyfriend asks.
“Just after ‘A Whole New World,’” I reply. “I think.” 

We treat ourselves to another little scroll before sleeping. People have started putting capsicum, and olives, in their baked feta pasta. I put my phone down, and forget to turn on Do Not Disturb again. 


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