I Delete Everything
My job is to create things that shouldn’t be erased, but trashing my own thoughts makes me feel great.
At some point in the past year or two, I started regularly deleting most of my tweets. Sometimes I delete almost immediately, because I feel like it, or because someone responds with a comment I find offensive or somehow corny. After live-tweeting an event, I’ll comb back and trash anything that didn’t meaningfully connect. Sometimes I delete weeks after the fact, while I’m checking in on my profile, thinking about how it comes off in aggregate. Beyond Twitter, I erase text message exchanges to make space on my phone for selfies I’ll delete later too. I untag photos people have taken of me. On weekends, I delete emails for fun.
Behaving this way, I guess I’m treating my thoughts like actual garbage. There’s infinitely more room on Twitter’s cloud than in my New York apartment, but I still want to clean up my feed like it’s my bedroom, eliminating things that don’t have a purpose anymore or don’t make me feel impressed with myself. I’m not the world’s tidiest person IRL—it’s just that the clutter I do accumulate disgusts me. Hoarding anything is just an opportunity to feel more regret, more times.
In The FADER's 2015 Fall Fashion issue, we look at many public-facing women: Instagram entrepreneurs, young professionals in South Africa and Russia, and two musicians who have become their own kinds of celebrities, Grimes and Kehlani. For these cover stars, in particular, deleting is more complex. When Grimes deleted most of her Tumblr in 2013, after a post was excerpted in chunks, the deleting itself became news. This July, Kehlani deleted her entire Twitter account, though not before people like me took screenshots. In 2015, it’s generally assumed that anyone who’s been deemed remotely famous must also forfeit their right to privacy, and these women both seem keenly aware that what they put into the world will be judged harshly. Today, Grimes’ Tumblr is back; Kehlani’s Twitter was reinstated, then deactivated again. I guess they could log off completely to feel more normal and content, but the internet is where their fans are.
As an editor of this magazine and our website, it’s literally my job to create things that shouldn’t be erased. That can be a heavy weight to carry, which is probably why I’ve come to enjoy the freedom of my off-hours deleting so much. I’m happy that, shouldering a greater burden, Kehlani and Grimes still feel the urge to share and the conviction to delete without shame.