Lately I’ve been trying to get rid of as many attachments as I possibly can. My digital files are not exempt from that. They are much easier to sort and search through than real, tangible objects, but the ease in which we can create or download files makes it much easier for junk on our computers to accumulate.
I was a digital hoarder, once. With the advent of technology, it’s so effortless to collect stuff online. The moment we got a stable cable internet connection was the moment I started saving a lot of accessible books, shows, songs, pictures, programs, desktop wallpapers, tutorials, games – you name it, I’ve probably downloaded it at one point in time. Because our net was so fast (anything after dial-up was a miracle!) I was saving more than I could actually use. I ended up burning spiels of CDs and DVDs and perusing only about 10% of all the data I had!
But just like retail therapy, something about a new acquisition – whether concrete or intangible – set off feel good vibes in my brain. So I kept doing it, over and over and over, until I got myself into a big mess of bytes that I didn’t even really know what to do with. It didn’t help that portable hard drives made swapping files with friends quick and painless. I couldn’t stop. I was addicted. It was a high.
It was in late 2010 when I made a small mess-up while “organizing” my files. I had accidentally overwritten my “Funny Videos” folder with an almost empty folder. At first, I was aghast. I was terribly mad at myself: I just lost several years’ worth of collecting! How could I have made such a stupid mistake!
Then I realized how silly I sounded. Was I really that mad over a folder of random silly videos? Did they really matter that much?
When I got over my initial anger and disappointment, I was overcome with a sense of peace and relief. I stared at that now empty folder and thought, that wasn’t so important at all.
Believe it or not, that is the defining moment that made me seriously take a better look at my priorities and begin to let go of the things that don’t matter. I let go of literally thousands of files, objects, (some) grudges*, people who did more harm than good, projects that didn’t really mean that much to me… and so on.
It’s amazing what kind of revelation one simple mistake over a not-so-important situation can give you.
Sometimes, I mess up. Sometimes, I gather files again. But most times, I am able to get things under control and stick to what is important and relevant to me now.
Control what and how much you download, find alternatives if it’s possible, and if it’s unnecessary, delete.
* I wish I could say I’ve let go of all of them at this point, but I’m only human, and it’ll take me a bit longer to come to terms with the more grievous ones. But someday, I will. Slowly, surely, I will.