The History of Hoarding


Apparently we humans started to farm because we like to own things. I thought it was because we were lazy – one of my favourite virtues. All entrepreneurs are lazy – they hate working, so they work a lot to make things easier for them so they don’t have to work much. Unfortunately most entrepreneurs lose focus and start to praise hard work and put in ridiculous hours, all-nighters and other dumb things instead of going back to their raison d’être; to be lazy and make life easier for others and themselves.

Anyway, I when I read the article above I thought about us humans hoarding stuff. There have been many phases of hoarding:

1. Traditional hoarders

Hunters and gatherers, as the article speaks about kicked off the hoarding phenomenon when they started to store things:

“one group in what is present-day Iraq lived close to a gazelle migration route. During migration season, it was easy pickings — they killed more animals than they could eat in one sitting. They also harvested more grain from wild plants than they knew what to do with. And so, they built “pantries” — structures where they could store the extra food.”

2. Physical hoarders

The baby boomers in the Western world have introduced the concept of the huge McMansion so that they can store all goods that they hoard. The double car garage (or as often seen in Perth, Western Australia, where I’m writing this from; the six-car garage) is not for cars of course. It is for stuff. For golf clubs, tents, vintage motorcycles, canoes, jet skis, old clothes and toys, gym equipment and more. Things “which might be good to have one day”.

The crazy cat lady who collected every single issue of New York Times in her Tribeca flat from 1928 to the day she died in the 90s is no longer alone in her obsession. The physical hoarders gather and gather until they run out of space…

3. Virtual hoarders

There are counter-trends to all hoarders of course. From Thoureau’s Walden via the Voluntary Simplicity movement and the Cult of Less. But instead of breaking the hoarding (which is a deeply rooted behaviour in us) new generations tend to shift their hoarding to other types of hoarding.

Digital natives produced, downloaded and saved mp3s, photos and HBO episodes like 2007 would be the end of history. They upgraded their Dropbox constantly as their hoarding gets out of control. “These images might be good to have one day”, they said when they synched their photo libraries through Icloud, Google drive, two external hard drives and a couple of USB sticks. They filled their kindles with ebooks and logged their life until they didn’t have time to live it.

The virtual hoarders gather and gather until they run out of time…

4. Future hoarders

What will future generations hoard? Spiritual experiences? Stories? Memories?

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