The Purge

My sister likes to go back through her Instagram from time to time and delete photos. She offers me various explanations as to why this is necessary — sometimes the older stuff is ruining the aesthetic she’s now trying to cultivate (a nebulous faded-colors look), or maybe she just doesn’t like those old selfies anymore, or it’s simply that she doesn’t want to have too many pictures on her account.

She does it, like clockwork, every six months or so. And she’s not the only one! I know at least six other people who do the exact same thing (for presumably similar reasons).

Though, she’s still pretty tame compared to the people who delete their entire profile every few years to “start fresh.” Erase all the evidence of their old life and start anew. I find it more common among younger users like my sister, but I know a few people in their late 20’s who still employ the total wipe.

I just don’t get that mindset.

Now, doing the occasional friend purge is something else entirely. I do that, from time to time. I mean, if we haven’t spoken for more than seven years in any way, shape or form — not even a rogue Facebook like — and I have no residual emotional ties to you, then I don’t quite see the point of us being connected anymore.

Connection for the sake of connection isn’t appealing to me. We have to find each other interesting, no matter how time and distance separate us. Otherwise, what’s the point? (I will admit that I do find it weird when people purge me from their accounts when we’ve been regularly liking and engaging with one another’s posts. Like, hey man, I thought we were friends. What’s going on?)

But why delete the actual posts? There’s symbolism in the gesture, certainly. Deleting all the photos of a boyfriend after a breakup is like getting a new haircut — a sign that you’ve moved on to better things. And if you want to turn over a new leaf in life, eliminating all comparisons to the old leaf certainly would smooth the transition.

But I don’t want to forget the person I was four years ago.

I won’t deny that seeing old photos of friendships now gone sour makes me a little melancholy, but regardless of how cold things may have become today, I’m not going to pretend that we weren’t friends and we never had fun, once upon a time. Nor am I going to pretend I wasn’t once a horrifically awkward adolescent who posted weird things about anime on Facebook.

We all were embarrassing once. We can’t erase that part of us.

I am a different person today because of what happened in my past, and to me, leaving my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or what have you intact is part of honoring the Paige who existed two, five, seven years ago.

Plus, sometimes it’s funny to notice I’ve been Instagraming the same pictures of the same food from the same restaurant for the last four years.