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I had a similar issue and it turned out to be a permissions issue in my home folder.

~/.cache/thumbnails had owner/group set as root:root.

This would be fine if nemo ran as root, but on my system, it does not.

nemo ended up spending massive amounts of compute and memory building thumbnails that it could never save.

I ran chown -R me:me on the directory and nemo calmed down immediately.

This is what pointed me in that direction: https://github.com/linuxmint/nemo/issues/777