Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful

—William Morris

I complained to coworkers this spring that I knew it had been too long since I had moved. I could tell because I had too much stuff in my apartment. Nothing triggers a cleaning out spree like having to pack up everything I own, haul it up/down stairs (there are always stairs) and then unpack it and say “why on earth did I move THIS!”  It’ s been a relief to not move for a couple of years–I’m sure the post office is grateful for the brief respite of forwarding addresses–but the clutter has piled up.

I’ve been working on cleaning out clothes I don’t wear. Having all those options is great, but I need to be realistic about what I’m actually putting on in the morning. I don’t feel too much guilt about getting rid of tank tops I was wearing junior year of college or pants that aren’t flattering that I was keeping because they mostly fit.  I’ve actually found one style/cut/size of professional pants that really fits and I stalk them on Ebay.

Book weeding is a bigger challenge for me.  I have quite a lot of them and despite increasing e-book availability, an excellent public library, and strong ILL capacities, I still end up over at Amazon, filling my cart. Or I’ll glut buy at Half-Priced Books with the Incredibly-Patient-Mother and Siblings-the-Elder/Younger or the library book sale, or Paperbackswap or or or…. And then I want to keep 90% of them forever and ever and they are mine and I want to continue showing my love of them by having all of them on my bookshelves.*

Now I’m trying to do some similar things in my digital world. While I appreciate the various filters and such that I can put in place, I do have to put a limit on how much time I can pour into blogs of cute animals, helpful financial newsletters, library stream stuff, and just how many people I feel that I can effectively follow on Twitter, Friendfeed, RSS feeds, etc.

And the easiest thing to weed/block first? Much like the junk mail that does still appear in my snailbox –advertisements are the first to go.  I have a yahoo account that I use for clothing stores, book stores, random other places that want an email address. Like the clothes I’m not wearing, I can easily toss things that aren’t a part of my current life or just don’t fit well enough into who I am and what I’m doing today.

Harder is pruning the twitter feed, facebook wall updates, and RSS feeds. I have things categorized within about an inch of their lives–but it seems that everytime I turn around there’s something new and interesting to add. Sometimes I just hit a point of frustration and the hide/unsubscribe function is used quite liberally. I’ve had two of those this week.

Situation 1: I was getting near daily emails from an Avon rep–even after making use of the unsubscribe button.  That is a huge pet peeve of mine and I’ve taken several websites to task about it**. If I hit “unsubscribe” and you confirm it–then I shouldn’t get another email from you. I certainly shouldn’t get 5-10 more emails from you. It shouldn’t take a week to purge me out of your system.  Frustrated when yet another email showed up–I sent a rather sharp email to the rep. Things have gone quiet, hopefully on a permanent level.

Situation 2: Selling me stuff on my social networks when that’s not the implied relationship. I have strong respect for freelancers. I am one. I appreciate needing to develop your brand, build your business, remind people you are there. It’s part of my library job and my freelance work and everything else that I do.  But if your Facebook page was set up to be social–not commercial–I grow quickly weary of repetitive sales pitches and invitations to pyramid schemes.

I expect commercials from some of the author pages, yarn stores, yarn owners, etc that I follow. The purpose of their pages is to promote their product(s) and I accept that when I choose to follow them. But I elected to follow people I know from high school/college in an attempt to keep up socially–not commercially–with them.

I opened a can of worms on Facebook by stating that I was hiding people who I perceived to only be selling stuff. Almost instantly I got politely chastised that people needed to make a living or it made their bosses happy. I empathize the making a living and growing a business part but again, that’s not the relationship I signed up for with you. And thankfully, Madame Director isn’t telling me that I need to be hawking the library on my Facebook account or even here on my blog. If I choose to talk about the library, that’s my choice and hopefully you know that means I’m excited about what’s going on–not that I’m just trying to drum up business.

Nothing lasts forever, even cleaned out closets, and, just as I’ll go shopping again, I’ll collect more subscriptions.  But for now I’m trying to hack the physical and digital back to useful or beautiful…

*I still aspire to a Beauty and the Beast type library someday. Or at least the whole wall of floor to ceiling custom built bookshelves like the Incredibly-Patient-Mother has….

**Monster Newsletters–it took 4 emails and they STILL screwed up what I wanted to unsubscribe from.