The internet is littered with zombie websites: forums that most users have long abandoned, novelty pages whose cultural moments have passed. This Website Will Self-Destruct will not have that fate. If nobody posts on the site for 24 hours, it will permanently delete itself, leaving only an error message behind.
This Website Will Self-Destruct features a simple web form that lets you submit a letter to the site. The messages are stored anonymously in a database, and visitors can view them at random, getting a tiny window into people’s lives. But there’s a timer constantly counting down from 86,400 seconds. If it reaches zero, the database — and the site itself — will be deleted.
The project follows a long tradition of self-deleting games and anonymous digital sharing. The site only mentions the novel coronavirus in one oblique five-word reference: “It’s been a rough month.” But the site feels impossible to really understand without the context of the pandemic without instinctively understanding how many posts are about a single event that’s consumed much of the world:
Him at least not yet he has a job at work and I have some stuff.
I don’t know if I can ever go back to drinking normally when this is all over.
I used to work from coffee shops. That was my way of seeing other people.
At least we’ll be able to enjoy part of the summer.
They’re not the only messages. You can also find declarations of unrequited love, jokes about video games, and earnest thank-you notes written to the website for its existence. Creator FemmeAndroid tells Motherboard that the site received around 15,000 messages over the weekend, and people have looked at messages over 1 million times. Life still goes on even under quarantine. But even that feels, well... weird. Seriously, when will all of these people confessing their crushes be able to go on a date?
Maybe that’s an argument for keeping the site as a time capsule until we start forgetting the pandemic. But it’s also fine as a collective place for sharing this moment then letting it go. Or as one post puts it:
Please stay alive during this pandemic. After that, you can self destruct, no one will care.