Call it a reset of epic proportions.

When Taylor Swift deleted her entire archive of Instagram posts this week to announce a new album, it set off a few alarms. Come to think of it, they weren't exactly alarms--they were more like shrieks from her fans. Yet, she obviously felt it was the right time to do it. Posing awkwardly with a fan? Gone. Looking forlornly at the camera? History. Previous album covers? Poof.

Sometimes, a reset on social media is not a bad idea at all. Once, back in 2010 or so, I felt a pang of regret about a new Twitter account because someone had posted a troll-like comment, so I deleted every trace of my Twitterverse. It's cathartic (and a bit time-consuming, unless you hire an assistant to delete your images one by one). Swift likely wanted to draw attention, create a new image, and hit the reset button all at once.

Maybe that's a good idea for some of us as well.

Here's why.

Social media is like a digital footprint. You can trace it back for years and keep a record of every post, but that's not always beneficial or even wise. For some of us, that means companies can see what we said when we were at a different company or in a different time of life. Most of us forget to think about that, and we keep the archive forever. Why is that? We reset so many other things in our digital lives, including email and text messages.

One reason we don't bother is that we are never penalized for space problems. Twitter doesn't charge us to keep those posts from 2012. Instagram lets us consume space with our images. Looking back at my own feed, many of them don't deserve to exist anymore--they are not newsworthy or worthwhile. Yet, anyone could easily scroll back and find them.

That's one reason I started over on Instagram recently and made it more of a personal feed. I just didn't care about the archive of photos from years ago.

Facebook is a good example of a network that deserves some pruning. Looking back, it doesn't make sense to keep around 50% of my posts because they don't hold any value for me. I'll never bother looking at them. I could keep only the photos, but even then--why? The most important images I have and want to keep could be easily exported off the network into one archive. (I've recently deleted many old posts. It was long overdue.)

More than anything, a reset is like starting over in life, a way of making a statement about who you want to become, not who you were in the past.

If you've started a new job, married someone, moved to a new area--why not delete all of your previous posts and photos? Save the ones you want, sure. Get rid of the rest.

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Published on: Aug 23, 2017