I bumped into a friend/colleague the other day on the street and had a great chat about public art and whatnot. Later, I received an email from him, but didn’t get it right away because my email forwarding wasn’t working. When I did finally open it, rather than reply right away, I had seen something on twitter he might appreciate, so I immediately jumped on twitter to mention it to him.
And … crickets.
He wasn’t there.
I couldn’t quite grasp this, thinking he must have changed his profile or something. I have known him as an extremely prolific tweeter. So I emailed and he confirmed that he had left twitter. And, even more dramatic, deleted all his social media profiles. Gasp!
I confess, one of my first thoughts was, “Aaack — but you had so many followers (in the thousands) and “you only followed a few hundred” – your follower/followee ratio* was fantastic! “….
I admired his decisive move to cut the ties to the hive mind and lose the what he called “junk language” to focus on his own work and keep critical thinking free from the sometimes banal or trivial tone of these spaces.
He is not alone in his flight from social media. In the last couple of weeks, 2 other people that I know have also dropped off the airwaves. I also deleted that you-know-who app from my phone, and after a few days of withdrawal noticed I hardly ever go there anymore. And generally get a bit of the doldrums when I do. I wrote about social media fatigue in the spring.
What To Do When You Leave The Shoe
So if you’re considering leaving the hive mind, here are some tips for off-roading:
- If you’re using social media for professional purposes, it’s a good idea to keep the profile live. You could tweet something simple “Not currently keeping this account active” and change your bio line to emphasize where to reach you (like your website (which should already be there of course) – or linkedin …)
- Announce or have a status report on your departure. Although there’s no need to announce if you’re only taking a short break— like a few days, or hours;). Consider if this is a temporary (like 1-3 months ) absence or a longer term. Your profiles should reflect that.
- Unless you’re taking the Kurt Vonnegut approach. Then by all means delete and be done with it.
- The return. When you come back, you don’t need to say “blowing the dust off this account”. Just start tweeting, posting etc. No one cares about the dust. Unless they are an archivist. Or you’re famous, in which case you have a handler, and probably aren’t even allowed to tweet by yourself.
- The return if you went AWOL by a total delete: If you want to start completely fresh, with new friends, new followers then you might want to consider more carefully how many accounts you keep live, how many people you follow / friend etc. It was the overwhelming noise that drove you away in the first place, no? Why go all hustle and bustle right away?
If you want to disappear completely, well good luck with that. It’s a challenge to wipe away all traces, but I’m sure it can be done.