The New New

The Depressing Truth About Deleting Your Online History

Self-destructing tweets highlight how the internet has failed us

Luke Winkie
Published in
7 min readNov 20, 2018


Illustration: Jacob Rocheter

II torched all my old tweets at the beginning of this year, using one of the many websites that help you destroy your online past. Like any reasonable person, I’ve never been a virulent racist or sexist. But the unscrupulous, mass-deletion of personal almanacs has become something of a rite of passage for anyone who spends a lot of time internet.

You probably know the deal: Click on a prominent Twitter account and there’s a decent chance the person behind it has reduced their total tweet count to triple digits, at most. Last Jedi director Rian Johnson did it. So did Kanye, Lindsay Lohan, and any number of other public figures.

We’re in the middle of a communication breakdown.

The internet once seemed to promise an endless, uncensored repository of memories. In high school, I dreamed about one day revisiting Myspace and LiveJournal, my online haunts, where every good and bad night was documented in something close to real time. I thought I would be in the first generation to remember everything.



Luke Winkie
Writer for

writer and reporter - Red Bull, Sports Illustrated, PC Gamer, Vice, Rolling Stone, Daily Dot, Gawker Media, Buzzfeed, Verge etc - winkluke at gmail