In the age of digital media, emotion can sometimes feel nearly disposable. Angry tweets can be deleted as soon as they are posted. Charged text messages can be sent in fits of sadness or anger, only to be quickly followed up with apologies — or even an indelicate "j/k." When it's all just bits of data, it can almost seem like it doesn't matter.
But, these things still follow us. At the Atlantic, Jessica Miller has written a touching personal essay about how difficult it was to exorcise the digital ghosts of a painful breakup.
"I threw out his toothbrush," she writes. "I don’t go to our favorite bar where we had our first date. When I have to be in his neighborhood, I refuse to walk down his street."
One thing she can't part with, however, is a snippet of audio that contains her ex's voice. Miller says that collects such random fragments all the time: "Call me sentimental, call me a sound hoarder, but these little bundles of ones and zeros bring a smile to my face."
Yet she can't let go of 34 seconds of a memory — "a handprint in cement, evidence that we existed." It might be digital, but it's as real as can be.