Hoarding in the Digital Age

A sampling of some of my own Pinterest boards.


We’ve all heard about hoarding; pack rats gone extreme. Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC shows us the devastation it can bring by taking us into the homes of people who have serious issues letting go and keeping clean. It’s a scary reality that has possibly touched you or someone you know.

I’m glad to say that even as someone who loves to collect things – shoes, clothes, movies, albums, etc. – it has never gotten to the point to where I’ve thought all my stuff would one day literally smother me. But, with so much being accessible online these days, and our increasing affinity as a society to “favorite” things as we surf the Internet, I began to think that our digital world is not unlike real life hoarding.

How many of you have a favorites list on your Internet browser that is so long you don’t remember everything that’s there? Do you keep it all organized?

The epiphany that we have become collectors of digital content came to me as I sat at my computer late one night liking things and pinning things to my boards on Pinterest. It’s an addictive site. Everywhere you go online, if you see something you like, you can add it to your boards. It’s the instant gratification of having something without truly needing to possess it. Digital life has allowed us to become pack rats without the physical luggage.

Worst of all, I believe it’s increasing our prevalance as human beings to procrastinate. It’s making us less proactive. Our “save for later mentality” has grown stronger. The more we pin, the more we save, the more time it takes to click and read everything we’ve set aside, the less likely we will be to go back and view it all.

Yet, I’m not ready or willing to give up my Pinterest boards or my favorites. I’d much rather be a hoarder of digital images and links as opposed to a hoarder of real life clutter.

What I love most about Pinterest is the ability for us to share what we love with others whether they be friends or strangers. Not only can I save things, but I can find DIY instructions, recipes, products, music videos, wedding ideas and more that I might never have come across on my own. For now, Pinterest is my new addiction. It feeds my materialistic side without the requirement of physical space or money.

What do you think about digital hoarding? Is it harmful? Is it the best thing that’s come along in awhile? What’s on your Pinterest boards?

Please comment below and be sure to include your own Pinterest links. I would be glad to check out what you’ve been sharing with others.

And, feel free to follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/carwinlee/.

2 thoughts on “Hoarding in the Digital Age

  1. I believe Pinterest is capable of no evil as it is my new crack; I cannot get enough of it and I’ll often kill time browsing other people’s boards. As a clean freak and OCD organizer, the idea of clutter horrifies me, but Pinterest eliminates physical hoarding–gone are the magazine clippings with recipes, fabric samples for wedding planning, comics cut out from the paper, and even the long list of websites in the Favorites menu. Pinterest is a way to hoard, but it allows a person to hoard properly, that is, in a clean, uncluttered, organized fashion.

    The other thing Pinterest offers to users is a sense of validation. I remember seeing a pin that said something along the lines of ‘I like when people repin/like my pins–it reassures me that I have good taste.’ Through Pinterest we can share our collections, share ourselves, and as a result feel good about our tastes when they are approved (through the use of the repin or like button) by others. A social connection is created through Pinners that is no different than the one between users of Facebook and Twitter.

    For now, I use Pinterest mainly to get ideas for my wedding, find exercise routines and motivation, and collect images that make me laugh and smile. I’m slowly working on a board for fashion and one of these days I’d like to create a board devoted to my eclectic taste in music: http://pinterest.com/kullmank/

    • Hi Kate!

      Thanks for the insightful comments about digital hoarding. I do agree with you on all fronts. Pinterest is a very organized way of hoarding. I think where it becomes disorganized is when you first sign in and you get a mashup of all these different pins from the people you’re following. That’s easily fixed by picking and choosing the categories you’re interested in viewing though. My other qualm with Pinterest is that I can’t shuffle the pins around on my boards. They stay in the order you added them. That’s okay, but the additional function would be nice, especially for OCD organizers like you and me.

      I also agree that the sense of validation one receives when someone likes or repins something from your board is great. It seems to confirm that one does indeed have good taste. By that same token, if no one else likes or repins what we’ve posted, does that feed into our self esteem, too?

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