CL Young 







Deletion

Deletion is a study of the use of social media profiles in the formation of self, exploring the impulse of self-erasure as a grief response, digital absence and self-evolution, and post-death online presence.


Statement


Between the years 2011 and 2021, I created and deleted or deactivated numerous Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, then created and subsiquently destroyed new ones. This process often coincided with major grief events and/or was initiated in response to the remaining online presence of dead friends. Deletion works to examine these gestures of erasure and revision through the fragments that remain of now gone locations of self.


Fragments


The social media profiles I initiated between the years 2006 - 2013 existed primarily under the name Catie Young. These profiles have been permanently deleted, any archives of their content lost in the process of device transfer. Emails regarding the accounts are the only records that remain.

From 2014 - 2021, I kept intermittent profiles under the name CL Young. Though none of them are currently in existence, the ghosts of two Instagram profiles and one Facebook profile remain. They are deactivated, but not deleted. I could sign into them anytime, become an idea of myself that has passed.

Occasionally, I created profiles under other names so that I could observe the lives of my friends. I most often used my dead grandmother’s biographical information for this purpose.





Passwords


From 2011 - 2015, my best friend and I sent each other our account passwords with the intent that they be used for profile deactivation in the event of our deaths. When they died by suicide in 2017, we were no longer in this space of digital intimacy; I did not have their password. Jam’s social media presence endures today.










Addendum


Essay on suicide and media; extension/complication of “Thou Mayest” (Entropy, 2019).






Remains (others)


Facebook suggests I become friends with my dead friend, Michael. This is the second time this week Facebook has asked if I want to be friends with someone dead. Derrida talked about how modern technology is multiplying ghosts instead of diminishing them in the way we usually imagine science to do. He said ghosts are part of the future, their power ever-growing.

[excerpt from “Lost in the Fiery Hell of a Canyon a Woman Struggles Desperately for Life” (The Scofield: Clarice Lispector & the Act of Writing, 2015)]


On the outside of their right foot, Jam had the word “timshel” tattooed in my handwriting. Jam became obsessed with timshel because of East of Eden. I have not read East of Eden and I don’t plan to, but the way I understand it, timshel is the directive used in the Ten Commandments when they are written in Hebrew. When translated, instead of “thou shalt,” timshel means “thou mayest.” Timshel makes every action a choice, an opportunity for creation. Such that even to kill oneself might be a radically open and generative act. Thou mayest live, thou mayest not. We understood this together, first without any external confirmation. Later, through the evidence of our experience.

[...]

Standing waist-deep in the still high water, I watched as Jam’s ashes settled into the bed of the Boise River. I wanted to go under with them. Just as I wanted to be there standing next to Jam on the beach, holding their left hand in my right hand while their right hand lifted the gun. When Jam got the tattoo on their foot, we were both in love with the idea that I’d be with their body always, even in death.

[excerpts from “Thou Mayest” (Entropy, 2019)]


Remains (self)


Free of object.