I have installed WordPress 2.9. In negotiating the new features, I find myself troubled by the phrase “delete permanently,” which has replaced the more reliable and more permanent “delete.” Posts intended to disappear now reappear in a Trash folder. This is clearly a carryover from Trash and Recycled Bin, features that are found, respectively, on Mac and Windows operating systems. These are both technological concepts that we have all come to know and love. But I am more troubled by “delete permanently” suddenly appearing on WordPress. I did not want this feature and I can’t seem to disable it. “Delete” was perfectly sensible and straightforward. “Trash” implies that my silly and often foolish typing in the WordPress window is now comparable to managing battered driftwood polluting an ecosystem that is beyond my control. WordPress has turned into Max Brod defying Kafka’s wishes. I presently have 407 draft posts in WordPress. During some incarnations of this blog, there have been more. There have often been less. I liked having the nuclear option. I knew that there was some sense of finality whenever I hit the delete button. My posts were like Roman babies left a rockface, but without any actual infants dying or an internal moral dilemma. But now I have to make two decisions about whether something I delete is worth deleting.
Now I’m a fairly decisive guy. When I want to delete something, I want it gone. Even if my impulsive decision to delete something may be wrong or misguided, it’s my decision to make. But if I know that some half-assed thing I write is going to pop up somewhere else, then I’m going to revisit it. I’m going to be forced to go through the same internal questioning that came with the initial decision. And perhaps the decision will be more agonizing. I’ll have more stray bits to manage. I cannot simply kill something and accept the consequences. The timing is rather funny in light of the recent Senate vote on the healthcare bill, which, should it make its way to the end, will make it mandatory for everyone above the 133% poverty rate to give their hard-earned cash to private corporations for healthcare. I feel that my relationship with the good people at WordPress has altered along similar lines. Permanently altered. Except that I am not obligated to give them money. So perhaps this is a rather incongruous metaphor.
Anyway, while there are those who will find this feature useful and who will jump up and down knowing that the memorialization and destruction of thoughts and feelings, seemingly permanent, are now not so permanent, I find myself troubled by the downside. If data is lost, if some essay is willfully destroyed or misplaced, is there not something divine in reconstructing or revisiting it again? Is there not wisdom or strength that comes from the second or third approach? If our primordial thoughts are accessible in the Trash, then are they really permanently deleted? Yes, one can find the inner strength not to explore the Trash folder. But human curiosity being what it is….
The upshot is that I don’t like the new feature, that my blogging has permanently altered, and that I may have to rethink how I go about this silly business. I was surprised to learn on Friday night that a very amicable writer I know still uses a typewriter. But I can see why. The WordPress people, as good as they are, don’t seem to ken why this “convenient” and possibly life-saving feature creates repercussions and consequences. Like the Senate, it’s all a game to them. And I wonder if altering relationships along these lines, without having a say in the manner, is now an ineluctable part of American existence.