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Are Computer Geeks Hoarders?

Posted by Nik on June 6, 2011

broken_laptop01A hoarder is someone who basically is surrounded by useless junk in their living space, doesn’t have the heart to throw anything out because they “might need it someday”, and if anyone tells them to clean up their mess they just can’t bring themselves to do it.

Compulsive hoarding is classified as an OCD; you might have also seen the TV show on A&E about it, so you know it’s the real deal.

The Big Question however is, are computer geeks hoarders?

Yes and no.

Computer geeks amass a large amount of electronics that turn into crap simply because things change too often too fast, and of course from the dreaded proprietary nonsense.

For example, one year you buy Product X. This product comes with a cable that only works with that specific thing, so as long as you have Product X, you can’t throw that cable out. Product X inevitably becomes old and obsolete, so if you’re smart about it you saved all the original packing materials, pack Product X back into the box and then store it. Why? Because you want to sell it later. Product X then sits in the attic, basement or closet for years because who knows? Someday it may be worth a lot of money.

The problem is that it will never be worth a lot of money unless it’s some rare (or somewhat rare), super-awesome thing that’s highly sought after, like a Commodore 1581 diskette drive. However the chances of you having that rare, super-awesome thing is slim at best.

Computer geeks don’t ordinarily hoard out of compulsion; the industry moves product so quickly that you almost have to just to keep your crap working.

When does a computer geek have a legitimate problem with hoarding?

This one’s pretty easy to figure out. If the geek has a whole bunch of electronics, but the bulk of them are broken, it’s all crap and needs to be throw out or recycled.

I’ve seen computer geek hoarders give all the excuses in the world why their homes are full of electronic junk. The excuses are always the same.

  • “I’ll fix it someday.” (It will never be fixed.)
  • “That’s part of a project I’m working on.” (..which has been going on for more than 2 years now with absolutely no progress made since you put it aside?)
  • “I need that stuff.” (No, he doesn’t.)
  • “That’s a collectible.” (Then why is it not stored properly, in the open and covered with dust if it’s so valuable?)
  • “I plan on selling that.” (No, he won’t.)

You get the idea. A true electronics hoarder has mountains of crap, none of it works and does nothing but pile up and waste space.

To note, a geek who has a workshop full of crap is usually not hoarder. The workshop is a designated place for stuff to be worked on, parts are everywhere, the area is rarely clean and that’s just the way it is. It’s when the crap spreads itself outside the work area that it becomes a problem.

How do you get an electronics hoarder to give up (some of) his crap?

Flash dollar signs at him. The precious metals in circuit boards are worth money to computer recyclers, and even the most devout electronics hoarder will relent when he can get cash. Find the nearest computer recycling center near you, learn what they pay out for specific items, present that info to the hoarder and watch how fast his mess will magically clean up.

6 thoughts on “Are Computer Geeks Hoarders?”

DOS_equis says:
Rich, the picture of the destroyed T60 almost brought a tear to my eye since I own an exact copy of that one pictured (although mine is not busted up like that). What’s the story on that one or did you find that pic on the net?

I do hoard a little tech stuff but I keep all of the computer hoarding confined to a closet in a spare bedroom. That way it helps keep the peace with “the one who must be obeyed” and also I don’t have to look in 10 different places for a USB extension cable. One place I’m really bad at hoarding is old archives. I will image a drive before doing a clean install (if I have to reuse it) and then rake the goods off of the archived drive. Then it just sits there in the closet and collects dust and whatnot. I just need to sit down one day and zero-fill all of the old Win98 and XP drives and sell on eBay except a couple of the largest ones for testing/ repair.

DOS_equis    

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Rich says:
The image is just a random busted laptop photo. As for where it’s from I have no clue, but were I to hazard a guess, it was probably from a computer recycling center; they get units in like that all the time.
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DOS_equis says:
Darn, I figured that you probably got it from the net but I was hoping for a juicy story. 🙂  It looks like it was run over by a truck.

DOS_equis

Rich says:
More than likely it was a unit that was at the bottom of a very big box of laptops sent to recycling and got crushed from all the weight.
D Bostick says:
Too true!  I recently went on a tear and threw out (recycled) a bunch of crap I have been “saving” for over ten years. Ancient stereo equipment, very old computer components I had stripped out of old systems before throwing them away, dozens of old cables, some still in their original packaging.  I must admit, I couldn’t bear to trash the old 3.5 floppy drive or the very old 5 inch one. Who knowns? Post apocalypse I might be able to save the world with them when I find that cache of all the world’s knowledge stored on them in some basement!
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Saverio says:
Another form of hoarding that would be interesting to analyze is digital hoarding, the habit of keeping very old archives and files on your PC and/or old CD roms: old .jpg’s or .gif’s, old software, etc.
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Rich says:
Yes, that’s also a very real thing: http://www.geeksugar.com/Digital-Hoarding-9793605
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Jasonmreece says:
But what if I needed something from one of those 5.25″ floppy disks- there’s like 10MB of useless, ancient data that I might need someday, despite the inability to access it…unless time travel becomes a reality! =)
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Nathan Hunstad says:
As a geek and network admin, I’m actually not a hoarder at all. At home, I have a relatively small box of extra junk I no longer use, but if it’s a big thing, I’ll sell it or get rid of it because I can’t stand mess. I just sold a motherboard on eBay for $10 simply because I had no use for it and didn’t want it cluttering up my space.

At work, I’m a bit more deliberate, but if something has been put in a one or two year timeout period and hasn’t been used during that time, It’s tossed. I’ve saved a lot of crap over the years, and it has almost never been worth it. I mean, who needs 100 copies of Dell drivers in a box?

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David M says:
That’s funny because I hoard computer stuff but not other stuff.  I realize it is futile to hoard old computer stuff because it becomes more and more useless over time plus it devaluates.  I have four plastic crates of old parts.  I just can’t seem to find the motivation to sell any of it.  I also have a total of 7 computers in the house, five of which are being used.  Could I consolidate these?  Yes, but I just might find a use for them one day. 🙂
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Jase says:
sounds eerily familiar…
How many machines is classed as too many?
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