I must admit that when the gadget-hoarding topic crossed my desk, I was immediately intrigued. After all, it touches two ever-popular topics: life-simplifying gadgetry and mess-justifying hoarding.
The revelation forced me to take a moment to reflect, since topics — particularly via email — no longer physically cross a desk. Rather, they cause a sequence of chirps and flashing green lights on my handheld device.
According to a recent spring cleaning survey by used electronics marketplace (red flag) uSell.com, 68 percent of U.S. residents suffer from compulsive gadget hoarding. Suffering is a stretch, unless the gadget crippled individuals are lying or falling on massive piles of old Palms, but the exaggeration was enough to keep my itchy finger away from the trash trigger.
I read the results more as a grown adult male who has enough legacy techno-garbage to fill a 6’ x 6’ space in the corner of a basement. (Holding onto it is an understatement, it’s closer to a child’s death grip when you’re trying to pry away Iron Man in preparation for a nighttime bath.)
Yet, the season is fast approaching, and my wife and I are gearing up for our first healthy spring cleaning and associated garage sale – I’ve mentioned my love of such sales in this space before; I simply can’t get enough crass bargaining over a 25-cent VHS tape on a hot summer day.
Noted signs of my impending gadget hoarding problem: Personal DVD players (2), all-in-one printers (3), 5.1 speaker systems (2), scanners (2), gaming systems (5 – occasional usage), and digital picture frames (3).
Now, on to the survey results — which may or may not be a means to spark interest in a used electronics marketplace. The survey asked 1,000 Americans how long they keep a device. Survey says:
68% of respondents have kept an old gadget for more than two years without using the device – Guilty.
70% currently have multiple old gadgets at home that they haven't used within the past three months – Guilty.
25% admit to having a gadget hoarding problem — Guilty. (Caveat, I’m going to excuse the other 75% as I’m unsure that the term had entered the lexicon until last week.)
I’ll admit, I have kept gadgets for more than two years. As an avid writer (formerly, the dream’s about dead), I have kept every tower, cable, monitor, keyboard, and mouse that I have ever used. I even have a number of word processors with the associated floppy disks. I’ve parted with the mouse pads, but it’s all part of some rudimentary, poor man’s archive when it comes to justification, both to myself and significant other.
With similar motivations, I’ve held on to every phone that I’ve ever owned. Beyond the old Nokia (and my inherent need to occasionally play Falling Numbers), I keep every phone and associated charger with the intention of one day pulling all of the photos off and creating an elaborate scrapbook. My generation is stuck between the tangible (printed photographs) and the digital (photo clouds), the result is phone hoarding — and digital picture frames, which in my opinion, just add high-brightness e-noise to living spaces.
I understand the emotional attachment to consumer electronics. I also understand the push for planned obsolescence. Finally, I understand that I’m not going to change anytime soon; it’s a ranch home with a sizeable unfinished basement (ongoing budgetary issues) and I can have a 9’ x 9’ footprint before I raise any real ire. If anything, I might finally spring for the external hard drives and think twice before I upgrade, but I’ve never considered myself a hardcore technophile – in regards to gadget hoarding, I still have some room to grow.
Confess your gadget-hoarding sins to firstname.lastname@example.org.