It’s Sunday night, I haven’t eaten yet, I’ve got to get up for work in a few hours time. Heck, I haven’t even showered. Why? Because The Clash’s “London Calling” playlist is currently sitting after My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” in my Spotify collection, among other crimes to alphabetisation. And that just wont do.
I spent a good four or five hours last night meticulously re-organising my Spotify playlists. For artists and bands for whom I only have one or two albums saved, they’re popped into the “Albums” folder and alphabetised by artist, then ordered by release date. Artists or bands with three or more albums get their own individual Spotify folder, with the contents organised by the date of release of each album. “Greatest Hits” collections have their own folder (alphabetised by artist) as do compilations (organised by date of creation), as do (immaculate) party playlists (organised by date of party).
Keep in mind that Spotify’s built in ordering tools are shocking — this pretty much all had to be done manually (probably a by-product of some deal Spotify made long ago with record labels to ensure collector/hoarder types like me can’t organise their collections as easily as physical purchases).
Sitting down to organise the hundreds of playlists gave me a level of satisfaction that little else has given me recently. It’s a bit scary to admit, but it felt like a weight off of my mind once it was completed.
We’ve all got an obsessive compulsive streak, and for the most part I don’t think mine is too worrying — my books are admittedly organised with similar attention to order (shelved by publisher, edition then alphabetised — in that order, so all the spines look right), and I get a bit funny about leftover suds when showering or doing the washing up. Oh, and I insist on going for a whizz before leaving the house (but that’s another story for another day). On the whole though, nothing that’s got in the way of living a relatively normal life.
But when it comes to my digital life, it’s a whole other story. Spotify is the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of Dropbox items, ruthlessly filed and ordered. Photos arranged in various cryptic folder combinations that make perfect sense to me and no-one else. Comics arranged by publisher, then series, then year of release, then writer, then artist — in some cases I’ve even set aside a special area for bloody inkers.
I’m not sure what’s caused my digital life to need such careful organisation when my physical life has more or less avoided such regimentation.
I’ve got two theories though — firstly, it’s just that simple, practical satisfaction of being able to scan a huge number of individual components with ease. I don’t have thousands of pairs of shoes, and I no longer have that many CDs. But I do have a shit load of digital media, and somewhere down the line I’ve gamified the process of ordering it all, with my brain delivering a little endorphin hit upon completion. This way, I can make sense of reams of data in an instant, like Superman reading War and Peace in the blink of an eye.
Theory number two is perhaps a less universal one. I grew up in a small flat with three brothers, sharing a room with my youngest brother for a long time, until finally moving out to share my current home with my girlfriend. Share, share, share — it’s a word that’s pretty much defined any physical living space I’ve ever had, and as such, I’m well trained into making compromises over the organisation of real-world objects. However, I’ve always had my own PC or laptop, over which to lord control of the organisation of its contents. It’s a little bit of control over one of the few “spaces” I solely had access to. I am the tidy desktop king.
Does this mild, self-diagnosed digital obsessive compulsive disorder interfere with my life? No not really — like I said, I’ve solely been to person that organised my computers, smartphone and tablet apps, so I’ve had them sorted just how I like them almost from the off, without meddling from anyone else. Were someone to come in and mess it all up? Yeah, I might lose my shit then.
I can’t be the only person that approaches their digital life in this way right? Are you at all similar? Do you have crazy file organising methods? We hear fairly often about OCD in the “real world” — what’s it like dealing with it in the digital one?
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