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I Just Deleted Over 15 Years Of My Life Off The Internet, And That's Fine
By joepeacock Posted in Blog on February 24, 2017 3 Comments
Note To Self, 2.23.17 Previous Note To Self, 2.23.17 Next

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.

 



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  1. It’s funny. I’ve considered doing the same thing. I made a blog article on my debut website/blog/thing that was along the lines of “Top 10 Gay Characters in Videogames” which was filled with a lot of shitty uninformed concepts about transgendered people, sexuality, etc. despite having written it from a place of “Gay characters are awesome.” I always wrestle with whether or not to delete it, although the site it’s on is a horrid mess of broken links/images to server hosts I no longer pay for that I doubt anyone would ever read it nowadays. I’ve kept it around for the same reason you kept most of your stuff. I want to own up to my shitty past and opinions, but maybe you’re right, maybe it’s time to just removal hurtful stuff from the Internet. It’s only a drop in the bucket, but it’s still one less drop.

  2. The deciding factor for me was “What good is done?” And leaving the stuff up only did “good” insofar as I could perceive it for my own ego… Not being seen as weak or cowardly, “standing by” my past, all of that. What good is done for the rest of the world with that? NOTHING. It was selfish. So I decided to axe it all.

  3. It’s never actually deleted. FB keeps your account… You can log right back in after YEARS of being off. Your whole account is still there. I know this from experience. Haven’t been on FB on about 4 years. People will tell me in real life that they messaged me on FB and I just remind them that I don’t do FB.

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