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按下删除键 为你的数位生活大扫除

Why it pays to declutter your digital life
按下删除键 为你的数位生活大扫除

I have a confession: there are 20,577 unread emails in my inbox, 31,803 photos on my phone and 18 browser tabs currently open on my laptop. Digital clutter has invaded my life and I have no idea what to do with it.

我承认:我的收件箱有20,577封未读邮件,手机里有31,803张照片,笔记本电脑上此刻开着18个浏览窗口。杂乱的数码文件入侵了我的生活,让我不知所措。

With the storage capacity of our devices increasing with every upgrade and cloud storage plans costing peanuts, it might not seem like a problem to hold on to thousands of emails, photos, documents and various other digital belongings.

每次升级我们的电子设备,存储空间都进一步变大,云盘存储价格低廉,似乎保存数以千计的邮件、照片、文档和其他数码资料并没有什么问题。

But emerging research on digital hoarding – a reluctance to get rid of the digital clutter we accumulate through our work and personal lives – suggests that it can make us feel just as stressed and overwhelmed as physical clutter. Not to mention the cybersecurity problems it can cause for individuals and businesses and the way it makes finding that one email you need sometimes seem impossible.

但最新研究表明,在工作和个人生活中累积下来越来越多却不愿意删除的数码囤积,和真实生活中的乱堆杂物一样,会让我们压力倍增。数码囤积还造成个人和企业的网络安全问题,有时找到需要的邮件比登天还难。

The term digital hoarding was first used in 2015 in a paper about a man in the Netherlands who took several thousand digital photos each day and spent hours processing them. “He never used or looked at the pictures he had saved, but was convinced that they would be of use in the future,” wrote the authors.

数码囤积这个词2015年首次在一篇论文中出现。一名荷兰男子每天拍摄上千张数码照片,又花数个小时整理这些照片。论文写道,“他从来没有用到或看过他储存的这些照片,却坚信它们将来会有用处。”

Defining digital hoarding as the “accumulation of digital files to the point of loss of perspective, which eventually results in stress and disorganisation”, they suggested it might be a new subtype of hoarding disorder – something that itself only was recognised as distinct from obsessive compulsive disorder in 2013.

数码囤积的定义是“毫无意义地囤积数码文件,最终导致压力和混乱”,论文作者认为数码囤积可能是一种新型的囤积症。事实上直至2013年,囤积症也才被确认与其他强迫症有所差别。

The Netherlands man had hoarded physical items before turning to digital photos. Nick Neave, director of a hoarding research group at Northumbria University, says he has noticed that themes he’d seen in physical hoarding are coming up in the digital space too.

荷兰这名男子囤积数码照片之前曾囤积实物。诺森比亚大学(Northumbria University)囤积课题研究组的组长尼夫(Nick Neave)说,他注意到实物囤积的研究课题也转移到了数码空间。

“When you talk to real hoarders and say, ‘Look, why do you find it difficult to get rid of stuff?’ one of the first things that they say is, ‘Well, it might come in useful in the future’ – which is exactly the same kind of thing that people in work are saying about their emails,” he says.

他说,“如果你对真的囤积狂说,‘看,你为什么觉得扔掉东西很难?’他们最先说的可能就是,‘可能将来会有用’,和上班族对待邮件的态度一模一样。”

In a study published earlier this year Neave and his colleagues asked 45 people about how they deal with emails, photos, and other files. The reasons people gave for hanging on to their digital effects varied – including pure laziness, thinking something might come in handy, anxiety over the idea of deleting anything and even wanting “ammunition” against someone.

在今年早些时候发布的一项研究中,尼夫和他的同事询问了45个人关于处理邮件、照片和其他文件的方式。人们囤积数码文件的原因各异——纯粹因为懒,认为可能用得着,不敢删除,甚至想留下某个人的“把柄”等等。

    蛐蛐英语 www.qqenglish.com

The team has used those responses to develop a questionnaire to assess digital hoarding behaviours in the workplace, and have tested it with 203 people who use computers as part of their job. Their findings show that email appears to be a particular problem: among participants, the average inbox had 102 unread and 331 read emails.

团队根据这些回应制作了一个问卷,以评估职场当中的数码囤积行为,并让203位工作中用到电脑的人填写了该问卷。结果表明,邮件是个大问题:参与者当中,平均收件箱中有102封未读邮件和331封已读邮件。

The most common reason people gave for not deleting work emails was that they might come in handy, that they contain information they need for their job, or that they could serve as evidence that something had been done – all perfectly valid reasons, but ones adding up to storing hundreds of emails you’ll probably never look at again.

人们不删工作邮件,最普遍的原因是认为将来可能有用,包含工作中需要的信息,或者可以让做过的事有依据可寻——都很有道理,但最终导致了囤积上百封可能看都不看一眼的邮件。

“People are very aware that it's a problem, but they're hampered by the way that their organisations typically do things,” says Neave. “They've got this flood of emails and they daren't get rid of them and things mount up.”

尼夫说,“人们也发觉了这是个问题,但碍于他们机构惯常的做事方式。他们收到大量邮件,但又不敢删除,于是越积越多。”

He cautions that the research is still new and we don’t yet know enough to say what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not, though.

他提醒说,研究还很新,已知信息还不能判定什么是“正常”,什么是“不正常”。

So how can you tell if you have a digital hoarding problem?

那么怎样才能判定自己是不是有数码囤积症呢?

Think back over the last week and see if you can remember a time when you struggled to find a digital file on your phone or computer – maybe someone’s address in an email chain, or a really great cocktail you Instagrammed for posterity.

回想过去一周,是否还记得自己难以找到手机或电脑中的电子文件?可能是一组往来邮件中某人的邮箱地址,或者你在Instagram上收藏的超棒鸡尾酒。

When he started exploring the idea of digital hoarding, Darshana Sedera, an associate professor at Monash University in Australia, asked several people this question. He found that almost everyone could recall a time they struggled to find something.

澳大利亚莫纳什大学副教授赛德拉(Darshana Sedera)开始探究数码囤积时,问了好几个人这个问题。他发现几乎每个人都能回想起很难找到要找的东西的经历。

In a paper he presented in December 2018, he and co-author Sachithra Lokuge asked 846 people about digital hoarding habits, as well as the levels of stress they felt. They saw a link between digital hoarding behaviours and levels of stress participants reported.

在2018年12月他发表的一篇论文中,他和另一位作者洛库格( Sachithra Lokuge)调查了846人关于数码囤积习惯以及他们遭受的压力的问题。他们发现了数码囤积行为和受访者遭受的压力存在关联。

纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/

Traditional hoarding disorder can make it hard for people to make decisions and can surface emotional issues like grief and anxiety, says Sedera. “What we found was actually, in the digital space, unknowingly or knowingly, we all are sort of entering into that stressful state.”

赛德拉说,传统的囤积症会让人们难以做决定,还能引发焦虑难过。“我们发现,在数码空间里,我们自觉或不自觉,或多或少的进入了焦虑状态。”

Jo Ann Oravec, professor of information technology and business education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, says that hoarding is not necessarily about the amount of information we’re each storing. Instead, it’s whether we have an “empirically-supported sense of control” over this data. If we do, it’s not hoarding.

威斯康辛大学白水分校(University of Wisconsin-Whitewater)信息技术与商业教育教授奥拉维茨(Jo Ann Oravec)说,囤积并不是说我们储存了多少信息。而是我们对数据是否有“有切实的掌控感”。如果有,就不是囤积。

But she argues that as we all start to accumulate more data, more of us are going to lose this control. “My students tell me it's nausea, it's a sense of disequilibrium when they begin to look through the masses of photos that they have,” she says.

但奥拉维茨指出,当我们储存的数据越来越多,大多数人会失去这种掌控感。她说,“我的学生告诉我这很恶心,看到乱糟糟的照片时感到头晕眼花。”

The level of digital clutter that will result in feeling overwhelmed is going to be different for each person, says Neave. “If they get to that point where they've become overwhelmed by the data that they've got, that they can't find things, that things are getting lost... that may indicate that there’s some kind of problem.”

尼夫说,对杂乱的数码文档感到不舒适的程度因人而异。“储存的数据让人不知所措时,会找不到要用的东西,弄丢文件……那就意味着可能存在问题。”

So why are we all in this mess in the first place? Platforms like Google Drive are “open temptations” for hoarding because they make it so easy for us to accumulate files and almost never prompt us to review them, says Oravec. “The sense that something is retrievable if we just store it somewhere provides a false sense of security.”

所以我们为什么会弄得一团糟呢? 奥拉维茨说,谷歌云端硬盘(Google Drive)这样的平台“公开引诱”人们囤积,因为储存文件太容易了,又几乎不提醒人们翻阅。“存起来就能找到的想法给人们提供了虚假的安全感。”

And there’s plenty of storage available. In Sedera’s digital hoarding study participants reported that they had access to 3.7 terabytes on average.

存储空间又够用。据赛德拉数码囤积项目的受访者说,他们平均有3.7TB的存储空间。

Some think that because they’ve enabled it, tech companies should help fix our digital hoarding tendencies. Sedera believes there will soon be platform-agnostic ways of indexing and curating all our data across devices, similar to how the contacts on your phone sync across apps.

有些人认为既然科技公司让人们能够储存数据,也应该帮助我们化解数码囤积倾向。赛德拉认为很快会有与平台无关的跨设备检索和数据整理方式,类似于不同的手机应用间能够同步共享联系人信息。

Oravec agrees that tech companies can – and should – rethink how they enable some of our hoarding tendencies. But she’d also like to see individuals take more responsibility for curating their own digital possessions, seeing archiving as a necessary task like going to the dentist.

奥拉维茨指出,科技公司应该重新考虑一下,他们如何造成了我们的某些囤积倾向。但她更希望人们自己负责整理数码文件,把整理归档当作是与看牙医一样必不可少的事情。

This curation doesn’t have to be as dreaded as a root canal, though, and could even be considered an investment in our future self-identity. Oravec says her aunt, who recently died age 100, carefully put together six photo albums that spanned her whole life. “She selected and curated those photos from the many that she shot while on vacation or at family reunions and sculpted a strong sense of self from this process,” she says.

但整理自己的数码文件并不会像牙医治疗根管一样可怕,甚至可以看成是对未来自我身份的投资。奥拉维茨说她100岁的阿姨最近去世了,阿姨珍藏了涵盖她整个人生的六本相册。奥拉维茨说,“从度假到家庭团聚,阿姨从许多这样场景的照片中选择整理了这些照片,并在这个过程中形成了强大的自我身份认同。”

Instead of berating ourselves for having too many unread emails or taking too many selfies, perhaps we’d be better off setting aside time to regain control of our digital clutter – one virtual photo album at a time.

不要因为积攒了太多未读邮件或自拍太多而指责自己,我们或许应该找时间重拾对数码文件的控制——每次都做一本个电子相册。

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