Countdown to Deletion

Who am I? Who is me? If you’re reading this, the chances are high I don’t know you… in real life. Yes, a few people I know (IRL) follow my blog—my brother David, my friend Nancy, maybe some coworkers, Susan. Beyond that dear reader, you only know what I show you. I don’t hide much, most of my demons are hashed out ad nauseum in bits and bytes on this webpage, but still, that dude is two dimensional. I ignore my depth. Most of me is too boring to write about.

We all do this. We offer a different self to separate groups. My coworkers don’t know I love punk rock. The other coaches on Eli’s mountain bike team don’t know I’m a flaming liberal. My kids don’t know my sordid past. We, most of us, temper ourselves, except when we don’t, and everyone thinks TMI.

I shared something today on Facebook. I do this about five times a year. Today’s was a link to an article about the mountain bike team. It announced our first race is this weekend—five miles from Gettysburg. I thought some people might want to come check it out. Hundreds of people attend these races, it should be fun.

After I hit share, I checked my timeline to see if I did it right—I did. And then I scrolled to see what else I’ve posted. Oh right, my new math covid graphic; then the new jerseys we got for our team; a blog post I wrote for Tourette awareness month; a Far Side cartoon showing ‘punk accountants,’ nerdy guys with pencils piercing their ears and nose. plus a tattoo: Add, Subtract and Die. Quickly I get to the Trump posts. Bitching commentary highlighting his most egregious statements: Soldiers who died are suckers and losers and People are dying from covid. It is what it is.

This is the self I show on Facebook. That punk accountant post, Scott liked it with the laughing guy emoji. I posted it in early June. He died a few weeks later. I guess his account is still up. I see him on several of my posts. The backyard buck contest. People post photos of deer that wander into their backyards. We all tagged Scott, he started it. Mine is nice, eight or ten points—hard to tell, a grainy photo before barren winter woods at dusk. This is the type of post I would delete a year out. Make room for the next backyard buck. Now it’s on my timeline for life.

Scott liked all my posts, the nonpolitical ones, as a realtor neutrality was key. I resist the temptation to scroll his timeline. I don’t want to see the posts people wrote after he died. I think that’s a weird thing, makes me worry that I’ll still poke at Facebook when I’m dead.

My online presence is massive. Three blogs. Books for sale at Amazon and Smashwords. Op-Eds written for the local paper. Two and a half years of weekly columns at the Good Men Project. How immortal am I, how long does it last? Are these blogs up indefinitely, or do they start disappearing after ten inactive years? Bloggers fall out of my life all the time. They read every post then suddenly they’re gone. Their own blog sits idle. The ten-year clock starts. A countdown to deletion?

Or maybe my grandchildren will cyberstalk me. Maybe I’m here forever. Not me, but that person I chose to show.

26 thoughts on “Countdown to Deletion

  1. I am still an avid reader but have simply forgotten how to write. Or to write about anything meaningful. I haven’t posted anything on social media in months. I have a tough case of the “who cares.” I’ve debated jumping ship but I don’t know what happens to my blog when I stop paying for it. Does it all disappear? Then I wonder if I should move all the material somewhere. But I don’t where. Anyway, still an avid reader. I’ll keep on reading even if I do leave.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I still contend that you would absolutely kill an anonymous blog. You have a lot to say but you’re constrained by your followers. There’s still the issue of paying for your main blog. Mine’s $50 per year. Will anyone maintain that when I’m gone? Should have thought about that when I started.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never really thought about my blog in the future. My girls and their friends all know that I have a blog, but no one seems to care enough to read it🤷🏼‍♀️
    I get the feeling they think it’s “cute”🙄

    Maybe someday they’ll appreciate the things I’ve written about our lives. I read old posts occasionally and I’m always surprised. Some of them are actually pretty good😂 I don’t think of myself as a “writer” (which friends have harshed me about) but more of a “journaler”

    The only other Social Media I have is YouTube with all my picture videos, and Twitter which I never go to.

    I think blog content stays for a while. No one cleans of the internet, just like space, Earth, the oceans etc…. junk just accumulats.☹ We humans are horrible!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve written about this a couple of times over the years. I guess some form of immortality is important to me. I read my old posts like someone would read an old diary. I like to see where I was at that point. I’ve had a very eventful life since I started blogging. What a gift we’ve left for our kids. Will they ever read it? If someone told me my father wrote a half million words about his life, I’m not sure I’d be so hot to dive in. Space junk: I’m still really pissed at Elon Musk for leaving a Tesla in space as a publicity stunt. Don’t we have enough crap out there already?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never tell people about my own blog, partly because I’ve gotten so bad at being consistent with it and partly bc I don’t want anyone scrolling back to posts I wrote in high school. But I don’t want to delete them bc I like having them recorded. I forget how I was then. Change is so incremental I don’t even realize how drastic it is. Not fun to think about, but if you go before Susan, I hope she will let us know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blogs make great diaries. No one (at least not me) would go to the effort to write so much about my life in a diary. I think Susan would ask Eli to leave a message. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times over the years. It would be such a dramatic ending to years and years of blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m the same way, different groups of people know different things about me, but I try to be an open book on my blog. I like the idea of the punk accountants, we usually don’t see too many of them at Villanova. I hope your team does well this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The race weekend is going well. The group I coach (middle schoolers) were all happy with their performance. Eli rides tomorrow. I’m a bit worried about how tired I might feel after this weekend. Next weekend we’re in Pittsburgh. I might be too old for this pace.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very insightful, Jeff. Have you ever read Finite and Infinite Games by Carse? He talks about this idea. We are each a thousand million different versions of ourselves reinvented with each relationship, yet unified all in one embodiment. It’s an amazing idea really. The mistake we might all be making is thinking that any one of these versions or ourselves “is” ourselves. Like a stream we are both the water and the flowing of it. These words on these pages are but skeletons of who we once were, and yet can never, will never be again. How wonderful! How freeing! Yet when someone wants to hold us to the being we once we’re, those words on a page, how we bristle! That is just a version of me—a painting on the wall. Truth, yes, in a way. But no more a “true” depiction of me than a photograph of me at a point in time. Great post. Thank you for sharing! Angela

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! I’ve missed you. So happy to see you here. I agree, every moment is a snapshot and the next moment we’re a different person. This is why I chose to write about my early substance abuses. I feel that it’s unfair for someone to punish today’s me for who I once was. But in our society, this is happening daily and with more and more frequency. I don’t think it’s fair or right, and I think a lot of people have been harshly treated for something they did long ago when it wasn’t viewed through today’s lens. But then there are obviously limits to what is acceptable as past behavior–think the Nazis who fled to South America. Can you repent such a sin? I could spin around on this topic all day.


  6. Reminded of some Whitman lines from Song of Myself, perhaps you two have much in common?

    “The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.
    And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

    Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
    Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
    (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well then I contradict myself,
    (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My introverted self naturally hides much. I think of my Facebook page and my blog as journal entries, memory prompts, that are sanitized for general consumption. My book, however, was different; more real and exposed (within legal constraints). I expect my next book to be similar, or more so. While it’s totally subjective, it seems the wall between me and book is much sturdier than that between me and social media. Maybe it’s the lack of immediate feedback? Plus, it feels as thought the book(s) will survive me, while social media won’t, so I put more effort into the book.

    You’re general themes – Who am I? Am I who I present to the world? – are mind benders, for sure. Does the answer depend on our internal desire for control? Social/cultural upbringing? Age?

    Intriguing ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I began my blogging career 100% anonymously. Because of this I let it ALL hang out. No topic was off limits. Then I decided to publish all of it. Hardest thing I ever did. I felt violated for years. But as a result, I had no secrets left, I am now able to delve into almost any topic publicly and honestly. I still feel violated by myself at times, but I’ve grown so used to the feeling, I can live with it. Over the past day or two, I’ve realized that ‘who am I’ is a moving target. I’m not the same person from one post to the next. And over time, I might as well be a completely different person. That book is truly written about a different person now.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Good topic Jeff, well presented. Particularly like the punch line.
    I’m reminded of the Longfellow verse:

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time

    I always loved the verse but found it daunting. An insurmountable barrier to attempting and failing. And so, more meaningfully for me personally I think, comes this one from another millennium:
    Think, in this battered Caravanserai
    Whose portals are alternate night and day
    How Sultan after Sultan with his pomp
    Abode his hour or two and went is way.

    But it doesn’t matter, really. Some day the internet’s hard drive will fail and it’ll all swirl down the digital plughole in 7.4 nanoseconds.



  9. I just had a similar thought. A friend passed away this weekend. I’m still processing it all. We shared a love of an online game and now I’m reminded of her every time I log in. I don’t want to let her go…but it’s a team game and she is no longer here to care about giving drinks or earning new tokens. It shouldn’t matter that we unfriend her account. And yet…I suspect we will all let it linger in the incomprehensible way that unresolved issues do when you can no longer speak to the one who is gone. (Sorry, I got four hours of sleep last night courtesy of my night-owl child. Who… Who…Who was I talking about? Oh right.)

    My current companion: Sadness. It haunts me while I putz around avoiding being a functioning human being for a little longer. I’m sure anyone who has been mowed down by grief understands. And yet, the world still moves on. It is as predictable as it is ineluctable. Perhaps that is the only gift grief gives us: time eventually moves on and drags us along with it. Whether we want to or not.

    I guess what I am saying is, if hanging onto a digital deer brings you any effing relief from grief, let that antlered darling haunt your page as long as you want. (Sorry, I may need to go cry now. It’s apparently what I need to do whenever, wherever, however it comes to me.)


    • I’m so sorry about your friend. As I age it seems to get easier to accept death. I almost didn’t write about Scott, the first friend who died that I didn’t immediately tribute with a post. I wonder will his wife delete his account? Would I? It does seem a bit like a haunting. When my time comes will my wife or kids want my blog sitting around for eternity? I feel like I should write something into my will.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the idea of future digital archeologists digging through landfills to find my old thrown-away but never erased computer data and writing dissertations on the eloquence of my prose and my sad, but profound life. (I am so going to earn that team some kind of award for all my blathering.) Definitely worth a line in one’s legal papers, for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Blogging I can understand. Social media? Not so much.

    Blogging offers people the opportunity to share ideas, and to discover common ground.

    It seems that social media either puts you inside an echo chamber or forces you to face the radicals on whatever “the other side” of your particular equation may be.

    My blog is on the free site specifically in case anything does happen to me, so that the work I have done will hopefully be sufficient to put someone on the path they need to be on. Social media? It has probably been three to five years since I have posted anything there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think about this all the time and have come to my
    own conclusions over identity or rather a lack of identity – identity is sticky, a coat rack for the ego – we are so much more. Can be – as long as we don’t get stuck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve made scads of progress in not assigning myself an identity, but I have so much further to go. My untreated OCD used to fuel this terribly. “I’m a runner” “I’m a drinker” I’m a writer” – now I try to draw a circle around all of that and say this is me.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s