How to disappear completely
Remember ‘Friends reunited’? Apparently it kept going until last year. I remember logging in as ‘John Smith’ who went to my school in the 1950s, just to have a nose at other people. I never even turned up, never mind reunited with anyone.
Twenty years later you can find me via a google search. I’m leaving trails and scribbling my whimsical pondering here.
What’s done is done, though. Apparently ‘disappearing’ from the internet is pretty much impossible. It is easy enough, I suppose, to delete accounts and just start being less present online. I often get a very strong urge to delete my Facebook account. But I’m trapped, just like everyone else. Leaving Facebook wouldn’t just be like going ex-directory, part of your world would cease to exist. People used to moan about Twitter. I like Twitter. I preferred my professional community on Twitter, back in the day.
I’ve always liked Dave White’s idea that there’s a range of internet engagement: from digital resident to digital visitor. The two extremes being someone who’s always in there with size 14 Dr. Martens caked in mud and someone who only occasionally sneaks in, perhaps wearing protective clothing from CSI, leaves no trace, and disappears.
I suppose I’d be quite a way towards the digital resident end of the spectrum, but I have been far less active on social media recently. I was trying to use Buffer to manage my Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and Facebook page for professional stuff, but sometimes real work — i.e. ‘paid stuff’ — and family life has to take precedence.
I also get bored.
It can’t be just me that watches the same stuff going round and round again and again, newly discovered and shared. Facebook groups are the worst: “Has anyone shared this before? I haven’t seen it, so I thought…”. Er, yes. At least 17 times. And within a professional community, the same blog posts just get written again and again. You look at something and think it looks interesting, then realise you’ve read it about six times before.
Web content isn’t like yesterday’s fish and chip paper. It’s more like a plastic bag, whipped up by the wind from a dusty corner, blown along the beach and sucked under the surf, destined for the North Pacific gyre, never to disappear completely.
Content is king?
Web content can trap you in an overwhelming mass of drivel, mostly marketing. If you spend too long surfing the waves of distraction, you’ll be sucked under and drowned in a sea of click bait.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!