You Can Delete But You Can’t Forget

Jacqui Shine made a rash decision to delete all the email from her late mother; in a piece for the Atlantic, she writes about why the digital nature of that deletion is uniquely haunting.

In another way, though, those deleted emails do survive, though—or, at least, the data that Google has extracted from them in order to build your user profile has...Every time I get served an ad for a fawning book about the Founding Fathers or for a deviled egg tray, it’s a kind of tiny haunting: a palimpsest of what once was, stripped of what made it really meaningful. And those tiny traces may be the problem—not because they can’t allow us to recover the things we’ve lost, but because they allow us to believe that we can.