“I’m Dr. Robin and I am a clinical psychologist specializing in digital hoarding situations. Today I’m going to be helping Ali clear out the old emails, photos, G-chats, texts and documents that she’s been carting around for about half her life. Ali, are you ready to make a change?”

“Yes. I’m ready to let go and embrace a minimalist lifestyle. It will be a brand new me. Let’s do it!”

“Great. Let’s start with emails. This is a folder full of internship applications from when you were a sophomore in college. I think it’s safe to say that the Wall Street Journal, McClatchy’s, Politico, The Reno Gazette Journal, The Jewish Daily Forward, Women’s Health, and White Plains Patch will not be getting back in touch any time soon.”

“Can we stop for a sec, Dr. Robin? This is bringing up a lot of feelings about rejection and I’m not sure I’m totally ready for this.”

“Ali, we have a lot to get through and this is something relatively easy. I’m going to delete this folder.”

“But the thing is, it’s nice to know the email convention at all of these places! This way I can contact anyone I want there.”


“Fine, delete it.”

“Good job. I’m really proud of you. Now let’s just look at some of these G-chats. This log of chats with someone named Lark stretches back to 2010. It seems like it’s just you telling her you lost your phone every day and asking her to call it.”

“I lived alone. You can delete it.”

“OK, good. Moving on, I’d like to address some of these photos in your iCloud. I know you have a lot of storage space, but you have 317 screenshots of Seamless receipts in here. Wow, these are huge orders!”

“I send them to my coworkers so they know how much to Venmo me!”

“Sure, sure, but do you think we can delete them now?”

“Fine, I guess, but I’m not sure everyone has paid me back.”

“Let’s cut our losses here. Now I’d like to take a look at your texts. Have you ever deleted any text messages?”

“Dr. Robin, I’m not sure I want to answer this on camera.”

“So, I’m scrolling to the bottom of your text conversations and I’m seeing a lot of contact names like ‘Huge Mistake’ and ‘Sculpture Major.’”

“I’d really prefer not to get into this.”

“Ali, it seems like the conversation between you and Sculpture Major petered out in 2012 when you last asked him if he wanted to ‘hang.’ I don’t think he wants to hang.”

“Fine, delete it.”

“Excellent. Now I’d like to open up your documents folder. Oh, my. This is one of the worst hoards I’ve ever seen. Jesus, I think I need a break for a minute. I might be sick. Is this Word document from 2003? How is that possible?”

“I don’t know. When you get a new computer they just move everything over.”

“You don’t need all this.”

“The thing is, I’m thinking I might do some memoir work one of these days, so I wanted to keep this stuff around as kind of an archive. Kind of like Alison Bechdel does, you know?”

“I am going to delete this 11th-grade paper on The Things They Carried, OK?”

“Fine, but my teacher handed it around for the class to read, just so you know.”

“That must have made you feel good. Well, Ali, we’re almost out of time, but what I’m looking at now seems to be a cache of copied-and-pasted AIM chats from around 2006 to 2010.”

“Don’t show me those.”

“Ali, this is an important part of the process.”

“Just delete them. I don’t want to look.”

“You need to make conscious choices about what you’re keeping and what you’re letting go of. Oh, these are all with the same guy, huh?”

“Dr. Robin, please don’t make me read these.”

“Oh, my. How many times did he say the phrase ‘Does that make any sense to you?’”

“I mean, there’s a search function.”

“No need to get salty, Ali.”


“Aww! Here he says that you’re ‘the smartest girl’ he knows! That’s almost nice! So can I get rid of this?”

“Can we put that one on the “maybe” pile for now, Dr. Robin?”

“But you were doing such a good job. Well, I guess we can come back to it after we finish with all these high-angle bathroom selfies in iPhoto. I didn’t even know iPhoto still existed. Hello, side-swept bangs!”