Marie Kondo stole seven years of my life.
Her immensely popular book — The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up — a lesson on how to declutter your life and become an organizational master, seemed like a book I would love. I am a clean person! I tidy constantly!
Kondo uses something called the KonMari Method, which is involves cleaning and organizing your entire house in one big sweep. But it's more than that. In the introduction to the book, Kondo explains that the KonMari Method is "not a mere set of rules on how to sort, organize, and put things away. It is a guide to acquiring the right mindset for creating order and becoming a tidy person."
As a person who is very tidy and gives every object a home, the prospective of being an even tidier person — plus acquiring a new mindset — seemed super A+. I was in. So many people I know have bought and read the book. She's been called "the Beyoncé of organizing." Over the three-week period it took me to read the very small book, I chatted with dozens of fellow readers in public about it. Like me, though, many of them were reading the book with a lot more gumption than they were doing any tidying.
And that's because the first step of Kondo's method is incredibly difficult to master. For Kondo, achieving the right mindset is based extensively on what you do first in her method: throw a ton of your stuff away.
Very early in the book Kondo tells us that storage experts are hoarders in disguise. "Putting things away," she writes, "creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved."
This was the first place where Kondo and I began to disagree. What is having a tidy space if not the appearance of cleanliness? Is not the point of tidyness to reduce the amount of clutter in a room so that you can reduce the amount of clutter in your mind? I don't know! I'm not a tidying expert.
But here's something I did know: Kondo had a very specific idea of what you were allowed to keep and what you should almost certainly throw away immediately and it was based on one very particular question: Does it spark joy?
Anything that did spark joy, I got to keep. Everything that didn't, got tossed. This spark, according to Kondo should happen immediately. "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard the rest."
The obvious counter-argument here is that some objects don't spark joy but are completely necessary. I feel literally nothing, for example, for my toilet brush or my vegetable peeler, but I would have to buy a new one immediately if I threw them away.
Nontheless, I liked this idea that the objects in your life should bring you joy, and decided to try it on my home the second I finished the book on Sunday. But because Kondo is pretty adamant that you're supposed to do all this tidying in one big sweep, and I am about to go on vacation and work all week and am generally busy, this wasn't happening anytime soon.
Instead, I thought, I will start with my digital life — maybe my truest life.
I deleted all the things off my desktop. I backed up my harddrive and saved only the files I needed in specialized folders. I redesigned my personal website and changed my automatic privacy settings. The junk drawer of my digital presence, the looming mountain to climb, was my Twitter feed. I joined Twitter in 2008 and have since managed to find almost 20,000 dumb things to say on the internet. Most of these would not spark joy in my life. Most of them were tweets of me saying something like "Texas is one million degrees" or "LOOK AT THIS SANDWICH."
I would link to some but I can't.
Because apparently I do not know how to read, I not only KonMari-ed my Twitter; I deleted literally every single tweet I ever tweeted.
I am a person who keeps things. In my parents house, I left my journals, and my childhood yearbooks, and printed photographs. I have all of the paper agendas I kept through high school and college in a box in the back of my desk, and every draft of every story I wrote just for me filed into folders on a shelf. Every sentimental note someone gave me on a hard day, I kept.
All this to say, I had zero intention of deleting all of my tweets. Every year, I request my archive from Twitter so that I can keep a record that's both searchable and not confined to the app. So I already had all of my tweets up until January 1, 2015 saved in a newly-created folder on my computer titled "Personal Archives." I could, then, delete all of my tweets published before this year!
So I found a site called Tweetdelete, and went about erasing old tweets, so that my presence would be diminished — tidied, you might say. Then I checked some box. *poof* All my tweets were gone.
"Do you feel free?" a friend asked me when I told her what happened. But I didn't. I didn't feel free at all. I felt silly.
It's not that I particularly love what I've tweeted or think that anything I have to say is important. That's not what had me mourning the passing of my tweets. Fundamentally, Kondo and I just believe different things.
"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose," Kondo writes. "To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful."
I didn't need my tweets. I didn't read them. They served zero purpose for me in the world. But tidying based on what matters to me in an exact moment ignores what future me might need. Tidying rids us of our written history, and discards primary sources. What if the next Anne Frank tidies her diaries away? Or the next Emily Dickinson tidied away a bunch of her early poetry?
With all my tweets gone, there's no way I'm KonMari-ing my apartment. All deleting my tweets made me feel is that I should tweet more to refill the space, and as much as I love to buy things, I don't have infinite money to re-buy strange postcards and oddly shaped jars.
I won't get rid of the book either. As an act of defiance, I have already filed it into my non-fiction shelf by the last name of the author even though it has sparked zero joy in me and only regret. It will probably stay there in alphabetical order, until I die and someone finds it and assumes that I never read it at all.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.