“Hi, I’m a website. I’ll be gone soon, and that’s okay. . . . If I go 24 hours without receiving a message, I’ll permanently self-destruct.”
These are the first words that greet you on This Website Will Self-Destruct (in 86,399 seconds). And as the old web adage goes, the title says it all. The website, designed by artist Femme Android, is a simple page where you can leave messages for other people to read. And once people stop leaving messages for over 24 hours, the site comes to an end.
You can choose to leave your own note. Or you can merely observe, hitting the “read a message” button to see what others have posted, while leaving it to others to save the website from imminent annihilation. A death counter on top of the page refreshes every time someone posts something new, which, by my estimation, was happening about once every 5 or 10 seconds.
Those notes themselves vary greatly in tone. You get the stray life observations such as, “Does anyone else ever just sit on the toilet and play on your phone without actually going to the bathroom?” You get hilarious threats such as “Im going to get anime banned and nobody can stop me.” You get a statistically unfortunate number of references to male genitalia! And you get startling confessions such as “My relationship is doomed and I’m scared because of our child so I push through the torment.” Indeed, one note on the site points out, “This reminds me of post secret…?”—Post Secret being the mid-aughts anonymous confessional of the internet, in which people shared their darkest thoughts and actions on postcards that were then posted online. (Oh, and it’s still going today! Who knew?)
Like Post Secret, This Website Will Self-Destruct feels refreshingly Old Internet because, if nothing else, they are each equal parts gimmicky and sincere. This Website Will Self-Destruct offers an anonymous place to express yourself in a world where social media thirst traps and virtue signaling has trumped innocent and earnest discourse alike. It requires no subculture of rules to understand like a Reddit message board, no esoteric platform-specific memes like on Twitch, no subtweet agenda of the day to unpack like on Twitter, and no autoplay force-feeding you the next piece of content like on YouTube.
No, This Website Will Self-Destruct is just a website. It’s a place to jot down some thoughts, have a two-second laugh or cry, and kill some time until nobody cares about it anymore. And that moment that its purpose has been served, don’t worry—it’s happy to see itself out.