Few weeks back when I was catching up with an old friend for lunch, one topic got picked up was about my current hobby of collecting ‘things’. Come to think of it, I would say that object-collection is one of the oldest activities of human beings. Our ancestors collected nuts, grains for foods, rocks, bones for weaponry. As we have higher intelligence to develop and appreciate art, we began with collecting things from nature, like feathers, sea-shells, rocks, to handmade stuff like crafts, ceramics, etc as gifts or symbol of wealth. Such activity of collection has never stopped regardless of race or wealth. Actually, there are still people collecting those old things like sea-shells these days and became expert of it.
Why do we like the activity of collecting? I think the joy of ownership is a key point. One of the most important things that any collector will do is to liaise with other collectors to compare as well as exchange their knowledge of their collections. To be able to claim the ownership of certain hard-to-find hidden gems, to become and being recognized an expert of certain things as a result of growing collection are what most collectors are striking for.
Well, about things that being collect, the list is endless. For me, I collected stamps when I was a kid. I would collect all kind of stamps, regardless of their countries or history. I would count how many I have and wouldn’t mind getting same stamps over and over. From that hobby, I began building my knowledge in Geography and Nations, then further expanded to national flags and other information about countries in general. After I got to high school, I had given up collecting stamps, cuz I began to have other hobbies that cost money and got my attention. For example, I began to read comics, novels and became a music-lover. I would borrow and rent novels, buy and trade comics. I also loved to buy cassette tapes of songs or blank cassettes to record songs from others. Nevertheless, I could say that I was never an idol-chaser myself, so I was never compulsive to collect all songs of my favorite groups or singers. So, I became more a consumer rather than a collector of any sort.
All these years of purchases, I couldn’t help but end up with pile of things from my hobbies in books, CDs, etc. I enjoyed them quite a bit when I was still single. After I got married and became a parent, I just don’t have the time anymore to enjoy my collections as much as I want to. Therefore, I rarely buy any of those things these days. For example, I stopped to go to any book fair for almost ten years since the last time that I recalled that I still had unread books purchased in book fair two years back. Then, I realized that I should not go to book fair anymore, cuz book fair is indeed a very seductive place for purchasing books. In addition, few house-moving experiences gave me very vivid account of how many stuff I’ve collected all through those years. The boxes of books and discs were heavy to move, and they take up so much living space. Also, as I bought those things after careful selection, many of them do mean something to me. I can recall how difficult they were found, how lucky I was able to come across them, and how much I enjoy them back then. I didn’t want to give them up unless I have to. As my space is limited, I can’t help but face the music, i.e. have to put off buying as many books or CDs, DVDs as I want to in recent years.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from collecting those things. I just do that digitally! Digital files in the formats of Mp3, pdf, mov, etc are just beauties. The best thing about them is that they don’t take up much space, cost of hard drive is getting lower and their capacity is greater as time goes by. Before chatting with my friend, I was always thinking that my downloading activity of those files was simply a way of instant acquisition for later consumption because I was too busy to enjoy them. In many cases, my belief does apply. However, after I told my friend the size of my collection, I began to realize how ridiculously big my collection is and I may have under a condition of a slightly compulsive behavior of collecting files. I might actually enjoy the process of searching and downloading those files, rather than really enjoying them.
Cuz, comparing with other book lovers or music lovers, their collections may be more reasonable in sizes which are fitted for a hobby. Namely, as music lovers, they may have few thousands songs of the favorite genres or musicians. As book-readers, they may have one to two hundred books on their selves that they would actually read. However, my mp3 collection is well in 5 figures and my eBook collection is surging in recent weeks to many GBs. I don’t think I would have the chance to listen and read all of them any time soon if ever given my hectic busy life. That still hasn’t stopped my desire to continue search and download. I think owning collections of songs as a mini-radio station or owning books as many as a section in library is something fun.
I don’t think I’m an expert of my collections since I really don’t have the chance to really enjoy them. But, I do have gratification in sharing my collection with others. Fortunately, this current hobby so far is not hurting anyone, me included, and it doesn’t cost me too much. Thus, come to think of the limited time I have to enjoy any hobby, given that this digital file collection hobby only requires few clicks away, I think I will continue to keep this hobby in foreseeable future.