In everything, we have collectively developed a need to classify and categorize. This need is nothing less than obligatory when one attempts to be scientifically believable. Thus, in Psychiatry, Axis II lists the Personality Disorders; the Personality Disorders are divided into 3 clusters, named “A”, “B” and “C”. In cluster C, there are the obsessive-compulsive disorders. The three obsessive-compulsive disorders most often seen are, in decreasing order of frequency, hoarding, washing and checking. (Not the hockey kind of “checking”, of course, checking as in verifying…)
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Hoarding, as the most prevalent, has now been further shown through the camera lenses that bring us “reality” TV. We see people whose personal effects have accumulated to the point of garbage not being disposed of, and we are told of an inescapable entrapment which requires outside intervention to remedy. The viewership for this includes all kinds of people who feel good watching because they “thank God” they’re not like that themselves. They experience mixtures of pity and ridicule for these sufferers, and this is somewhat soothing to them as it validates their non-participation in such a disorder. Schadenfreude. The pleasure one takes in the misery of others. Enough of a pleasure that it becomes popcorn-eating entertainment. Enough of a pleasure that viewers resent commercial breaks and want to see more. Indeed, enough of a pleasure that it can become addictive. Enough of an addiction, and networks capitalize on this, that reruns will be available alongside prime-time episodes to make sure not one crumb of Schadenfreude is lost.
So much for hoarding “stuff”.
I would propose, as I prepare for reactive vitriol, that facebook is the warehouse where the hoarding of people happens. And because it is cyber-hoarding, there is no geographical limit to this warehouse. Neither is there a limit to the hoarding and the accumulating. Whenever I think of people having thousands of friends on facebook, I am convinced that thousands is excessive. As I’ve said before, friending and friendship are very different from one another. Friending is indiscriminately cumulative. Friendship is discriminately complementary.
I find the excess of friending to be the same as the excessive hoarding of objects: pitiable and ridiculous. I have the same inclination to feel sorry for, and laugh at, facebookers with thousands of hoarded friends.
There is, however, no desire, no need and no disposition, towards outside intervention to remedy the hoarding of friends. It is not seen as a disorder. It is, rather, understood to be highly laudable. Frienders on facebook are perceived to be better than people who do not engage in this because they have “more”.
But is more better?
More stuff used to be better than less stuff, in the day and age when abject poverty was the death of you.
More friending is better than less friending in the day and age when abject isolation can lead to suicide.
One day, though, I think more friending will get to be as bad as hoarding more stuff.
I’m glad it’s not me.
***A/N Short story readers may be familiar with T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Filthy with Things"
Of all known institutions, I attend only two: church, in my heart, and school, in yours. Both are subject to demolition. - Lucie Adams, 2007
It is only for poetry to know how many stanzas fit into one caress. - Lucie Adams, 2008