We're all just one annoying encounter from sociopathy here in Nerdville
Geek Girls Rule! #366 – Collecting versus COLLECTING
This was a panel that we did at Norwescon this year. Now, the idea behind the panel was that we would talk about whether we were the kind of collectors who very carefully preserved their things in acid free liners and kept all of our action figures “mint in box,” or if we were the kinds who read favorite issues until they resembled toilet paper, and took our action figures out to play with.
Which is still a valid conversation to have.
However, what the panel turned into was how to tell when you’ve crossed the line from collecting into hoarding.
Of the four of us up there, three of us came from families with hoarding problems. Trust me. It took the Geek Husband What Rules, my sister and I three months of evenings and weekends to clear out one storey of my parents’ house. One storey. Not the basement or garage, just the main floor. We threw out, bags of bags, luggage with broken zippers, boxes of boxes, grocery bags of old jam and pickle jars. However, a lot of the things that I’d left behind when I moved out and had repeatedly asked about over the years were given away to make more room for this stuff.
I may have some issues surrounding this.
Anyway, we wound up talking about how do you know if you’ve crossed that line from collecting to hoarding. And I think this is a really important discussion to have in a culture where collecting and completionism are such big parts of it.
As much space as my Nightcrawler shrine takes up, I thank every deity in every pantheon ever that I never got into Gundam. Holy shit, is that a fandom with a lot of stuff in it. My Pokemon collecting remains digital, and I’m trying to make the move over to digital books. I am, I mean, I do mostly buy digital books, but I still have a lot of physical books. I like how they feel and given that books were my only friends for several stretches of my life, I have a very intense emotional attachment to them. The first time the GHWR and I decided that we really needed to sell some books to a used bookstore, I cried all the way home.
What’s made getting rid of things easier is having cleaned out my parents’ house.
Now, back to the nerd stuff specifically. I do take my action figures out of their boxes and off their cards. I read my comics. For awhile I would buy two action figures and take one out to play with and save the other. But they really don’t appreciate in value like you think they’re going to.* The reason the Star Wars figures appreciated like that was that no one knew there’d be a market for them later. Now, too many people are buying things on spec, and the market never gets a chance for demand to outstrip supply. So I don’t do that anymore.
I’ve gotten away from the “investment” mindset, and moved to an attitude of collecting things because I like them. I’ve also gotten away from the complete-ist thing, too. And part of that is the burning desire to not become my parents, only with comics and action figures as opposed to margarine tubs and Big Gulp Cups. But I also know that there is going to come a time when I have to start culling the collection and limiting the stuff I buy.
And I’ve actually stopped collecting a few things, ok a lot of things.
The only comics I buy in individual issues any more are things like Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals and Ody-C. I don’t collect any of the major Marvel comic lines anymore** because A. Fucking Crossovers and B. comics take up a lot of space. I mean, so can graphic novels. But I find I don’t have that pang getting rid of graphic novels like I get when I try to get rid of individual comics.
It all comes down, I think, when you think of the difference between collecting and hoarding, to why you’re doing it. Are you buying these things because it’s a compulsion, or because they genuinely give you joy?
If the answer is the former, then you may want to talk to a therapist and take a good long look at your motivations, maybe get some friends to help you decide what’s really important.
If the answer is the latter, then good for you. Just try to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t tip you over into the former.
*Lego kits on the other hand… try to keep kids from playing with and losing parts of Lego kits, ain’t gonna happen. I financed a move by selling a select few action figures and a bunch of Lego kits.