We probably won’t know who won the election on Wednesday, but there’s still a way to get that feeling of catharsis and closure. Delete your account.
Things are about to get confusing as polling places close, exit polls come in, and vote counting begins in the 2020 presidential election. More than ever before, many of us will be keeping up with the returns online and providing our own running commentary on social media. In other words, the odds are high that you’ll say something totally stupid tonight. It could be days before you know just how stupid that thing you said really was. What we know about the results of the election will likely be changing throughout the rest of the week. Even if things look certain to be going in one direction, it’s not over until every vote is counted.
So, sometime between now and Friday, you might find yourself regretting something you said online. (Hell, my colleague Tom McKay already got himself suspended on Twitter today because Jack Dorsey doesn’t have a sense of humor.) And you’ll probably decide to go delete that stupid thing that you said or video that you cut or photo that you posted. What I’m suggesting is that you should go further and delete the whole account. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Ello, or Gab, whatever it is, just delete it all.
For years, I’ve been trying to get people to quit social media altogether, and I’m not foolish enough to think I’ll convince you today. I get it, I use it too. But I’m pretty sparing with my posting and I set tweets to delete periodically. It’s a good feeling, folks. The thing is there’s a bit of a stigma around deleting posts. If you had a bad post and delete it, people will drag you for another round. If you delete all your posts, people will ask what you’re trying to hide. I like the middle ground of just doing it all the time so it’s part of a routine.
But deleting a whole account is a beast of another order. You’re giving up a space that you most likely claimed in the early days of the platform, and it’s shadier by an order of magnitude. You’re not just sweeping away the evidence of an account’s existence. The internet doesn’t forget, and if it’s public, the Wayback Machine probably made a copy of it at some point or another. And what you need to understand is that Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, is the perfect excuse to just wipe the slate clean.
We’re about to enter a new era no matter the outcome of the election. A Biden presidency would be a hard reset on many issues, a second Trump term would show us what happens when the big guy is absolutely unaccountable to anyone. The last four years have been wild, and you probably said tons of stupid shit along the way. Maybe you were a Lev Parnas stan for a week. Maybe you’ve still been holding a torch for Marianne Williamson to somehow pull out a victory. Maybe you’ve posted one too many videos explaining who Q is from the front seat of your car. The fact is, you don’t need a reason to delete the account, the account itself is reason enough.
Let’s say a year from now you’re at a job interview with a tough vetting process. The interviewer says that they found traces of an old Instagram account online and asks if there’s anything the company needs to know about why that account was deleted. You say it was after the election, you got fooled by some fake news or whatever, and you decided to do a mea culpa that meant something. Or say your friend hits you up next week with an “are you okay, I saw you deleted your Insta” message. Just tell them it felt like it was time to start over.
Open another account, that’s fine. Hopefully, the data aggregators out there won’t connect your new life with the sins of your past. I have a good feeling about this, and I’m going to go ahead and call 2021 the year of the social media enema.