Free Writing: Lamentations on (my) Online Presence

CAVEAT: This is where grammar and syntax die.

A lot happened in the last 3 months. The biggest highlight of the year’s first quarter is getting accepted into my university’s medical school. That’s why I’ve been trying to withdraw from most places on the internet.

I attempted to lessen my non-academic online time in many ways. The first place I took an indefinite hiatus from was (though I still check from time to time, mostly if someone reminds me about the site.)

DeviantART had to follow, even if it was a hard decision for me at the time. The site is too addictive for me to stay, since time I can use to study gets killed from replying to my inbox that never seems to get down to 0, even if I’ve already unwatched more than half of the people on the original list.

Arguably, Reddit and Twitter might have replaced those, but I’m mostly only on both places for TSV hatching. I will not discuss that here, but you can check /r/SVExchange if you want to know more about that. I also revived my Instagram account, but I don’t post everyday.

I’ve played Pokemon much less as of late. It may be the wave of exams I’ll have in the next couple of weeks, or an exercise in self-discipline.

Leaving most of my online presence is much harder than I thought it would be. I was easily able to leave many communities I’ve joined over the years, without even declaring an indefinite hiatus. I never even thought of leaving some of those places, but it just happened naturally. I had no energy for most forums, even if I haven’t exactly grown out of them.

I’ve considered deleting some of my older accounts (impossible if I’ve forgotten the passwords to said accounts; my old “catch-all registration e-mail” no longer exists.) I even thought of deleting older Facebook posts of mine, even if I don’t really use the site that much outside of groups I’m a part of (i.e. the class group, a 3DS group mostly consisting of students from my university.)

I realised that leaving communities I am not socially invested into is easy, but why is it difficult for me to delete old accounts of mine? While I’m happy that nobody will have an online record of my pre-teen naivete back in the HMFarm Message Boards, I don’t want the same thing to happen again — that is, I would not want to lose the entirety of my digital footprint. There are things I’d like to erase, but there are too many mementos I was unable to save:

1. The many attempts at digital art I’ve made over the years, since I’d purge them all as soon as I could no longer bear to look at them,

2. The signatures I made on the HMFarm forums, along with character profiles and RP posts that were a part of that character’s story,

3. Blog entries of mine in blogs I’ve deactivated or locked myself out of — I could have laughed at my own silliness whenever I felt bad, instead of harbouring suicidal thoughts (which I thankfully no longer entertain or have,)

4. Photographs from my high school years. Multiply was the popular social network back then, but the site closed down so rapidly, giving most people very little time to retrieve their content. If only I could have at least kept an archive of both Multiply sites I had; and,

5. Too many for me to recall or mention at the moment.

We all have that internal revisionist who sees to expunge the Internet of all traces of personal content we find too embarrassing. I don’t blame anyone; these are the times when someone can be denied employment only from the content they post on social media.

I realised why leaving places where I have not engaged in socialisation can still be hard for me to abandon even if I’ve only left a small mark: I hold sentimentality and memories highly.


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