I deleted all the posts on my website and I feel fine
In the process of redesigning and rebuilding this website I decided to delete all the existing posts and start fresh. It wasn’t a hard decision either. A quick survey of the old posts revealed content authored in a different era. Each entry consisted of a quick, one or two sentences, usually with a single picture or video and a quippy title. This sort of writing was popular before social media platforms like Twitter took hold, but at this point I wonder what the value is in keeping up old content of this quality. In the current era, where longform content has flourished, publishing “blog posts” that consist of a few words just feels paltry.
Your are not required to maintain websites forever
This did get me thinking: Was I being a bad web developer and internet citizen by wanting to delete these posts? For not maintaining my content, maintaining my hyperlinks forever and ever? Do I care about that? Well, I do in certain situations – but I’ve also become more realistic about what matters to me and it’s far fewer contexts that I previously thought necessary. Portfolio work? Very important. Travel photos? Yes, important. Snarky blog posts from 10 years ago. Um, nah. Delete.
This certainly flies in the face of traditional wisdom that holds that Hyperlinks should live forever, particularly for someone involved in authoring the internet – but I find that there has been a valuable reset in recent years surrounding the issue.
For me the realization came during the early days of Snapchat. If you are not a user of the service, one of the things it does is limit the amount of times you can view a message. Someone sends you a photo or video, you get one chance to watch it, and it’s gone. That subversion – of artificially restricting a digital item – felt slightly magical. For me it was an eye opener, because I never quite agreed with the concept of a Golden Era of the Internet, whose content must be maintained forever.
I’m certainly not opposed to information or websites living forever, I’ve maintained individual websites for over a decade, and I think that long-term thinking is valuable, it’s simply not needed in every case. I’m not here to tell you that you can delete important data, but I will reassure you that it’s perfectly healthy to delete your posts, tweets, pics, facebooks. It feels good. Be a little mysterious. Edit out your lesser posts. Deleting the digital ephemera that you created in years past is a healthy part maintaining your digital hygiene. I celebrate it! There is a good chance I may even delete this post later.