The power of delete

Matt Buchanan @ The New Yorker:

Snapchat highlights the power of deletion in resisting the gentle totalitarianism of endless sharing. Deletion pokes holes in these records; it is a destabilizing force that calls into question their authority, particularly as complete documentation of a person’s online identity, which Facebook and Twitter increasingly purport to be. It is the only way to be selective, to make choices, when everything is shared. I delete tweets frequently from Twitter, for instance. (I have jokingly called it “snaptweeting.”) There is a general expectation that a tweet will stick around, particularly if it is somehow embedded in the greater Twitter infrastructure, for example when somebody favorites or retweets it. Its disappearance shortly thereafter breaks the system in a tiny way, generating a hairline crack in that model of who I am.

I've set my Twitter account to auto-delete tweets after a week and am often tempted to flee it altogether. I've joined and quit Facebook and Instagram and Tumblr multiple times: these services are fun and useful to me until they're not, at which point I make my Irish exit & burn it all to the ground. My need to broadcast is forever at odds with a desire to disappear into the crowd without a trace, and it's all topped off by the simple reality that nobody needs more of anything from me. Except this blog, yo.

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