I’ve been considering doing it for about four years now, and tonight, I finally deleted my old blog.
It was a weird choice. I can’t say “hard” because I’ve wanted to do it for four years. But some part of me kept holding on. At first, it was posterity. You can’t just exile 15 years of your life, I thought to myself. It’s my LIFE, chronicled and out there for the masses to read. It’s part of the public record. There’s any number of cross-posts from that old blog and CNN, AOLNews, PC Gamer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Huffington Post and Wired.
And that led me to the next justification: what if someone reads an old piece of mine at one of those places and thinks that’s still how I think? Well, so what if they do? I can’t change the past. What I wrote, I wrote — no matter how misguided, or motivated by getting attention, or otherwise. Pieces about “Fake” geek girls, autism, early internet culture, and other topics I now have drastically different views about will just have to live there on the sites they’re hosted at; monuments to an old version of myself that I should always strive to live better than but never forget are a part of my history.
So what led to the decision to go ahead and hit ‘delete’ tonight?
I got an email from someone who took issue with a post I wrote in 2010, about the colored bracelet movement among teens and young adults that detailed the types of depression and psychological issues they are experiencing. The piece I wrote came on the heels of a letter I wrote to someone who sent me a suicide note. I was in a place of anger and “aggressive negation” and, due to my immaturity and general position as middle-tier blogger on the internet who got attention from his “edgy” views, I wrote something I can’t read today and allow to be out there as a representative example of who I am now.
I wrote back to the person who emailed me. I explained to her that that piece was left up as part of my history, and I had a huge and hefty disclaimer in the header of the blog explaining that the pieces on that blog are no longer representative of who I am. She responded, saying that she found the piece in a Google search result and it didn’t have that header and explainer.
So, despite my feeling that I should always leave up every piece of who I was at some point, just in case someone thinks I’m a coward and running from my past, I decided it was worse to let those types of articles persist and hurt people in perpetuity. I can’t control how someone perceives the piece they find in search results, despite my best efforts to let them know that those pieces are old and from a mindset I no longer have.
Those pieces are hurting people, even if I don’t mean them anymore. So, I deleted over 15 years of writing. Good, bad, helpful, hurtful… All of it. Gone. Because despite producing work that I am genuinely proud of and that I stand by to this day as pieces that have helped folks, I can’t allow the bad pieces to keep doing harm.
I’ve archived them all here on dropbox, so if ever there’s a question about something I wrote at some point somewhere, there’s a reference for anyone who needs it.
But this is merely a cache of the past, linked up for anyone who chooses — knowing that I have changed and think vastly differently now — to dig into what I once wrote.
There is a considerable amount of pain associated with deleting 15 years of your internet life. Having done so with Facebook and with Twitter, I know a little of what to expect. But I will say, there’s a swell of emotions going through me tonight that range from relief that a past that’s no longer relevant to me is gone, to realizing that with a push of a button I just erased FIFTEEN YEARS of my life from the internet.
So I’m going to have to process that.