Disappearing Into the Ethernet


It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t just disappear from social media. You don’t remove your blog or delete your Twitter and Facebook account without warning. You don’t keep those accounts and abandon them. ThoughtBubble

Why? Because we have made connections.

Maybe I made this rule up because, of course, many people do disappear. But a lot don’t. They announce they won’t be on Twitter or are taking a break from blogging. They often give a reason, too: computer problems, internet connection, poor health, family stuff, personal issues, going on vacation, “just need a break”…

The “social” in social media is strange. I’ll confess to checking on people (discreetly—in DMs or emails) if I notice they’ve gone AWOL, and it truly is out of concern. I’m not trying to pry and yet, I wonder, is this appropriate? I think it depends on your relationship with the person.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. When did we become so attached to our cyber friends? How do we define online friendships?

How much do we owe our readers and followers? Our facebook friends and tweeps? Why do we feel we must give an explanation for our sudden disappearance?


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


17 thoughts on “Disappearing Into the Ethernet

  1. Cyber friends are just as important in our lives as those that we see daily. I do send emails and check up if I have not seen someone post for a while especially because I have had some that are no longer on my list (wordpress problem) and have to refollow them. And because I care about people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe that those that you connect with whether it is in a cyber space, real space or some other space that I haven’t yet come across you connect — and really that is all there is to it. Possibly with our cyber friends we share thoughts that are possibly deeper than we share with most of the people we are acquainted with. When a line of communication opens with this unknown person that we are getting to know better than most others it is a natural progression to worry about those people when they are absent because they mean something to you and you care for their well being. The connection made doesn’t happen with oodles of people but for those that it does it is nice that we don’t leave them wondering and nice if they send a message letting you know they care. Just as you would with non-cyber friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose it’s common courtesy. Just because people are behind a screen doesn’t make them less deserving of politeness as people no behind a screen. If yo’re in regular contact with someone, it’s only polite to let them know when you won’t be around. I always would, if I could.


  4. Digital relationships are no longer regarded as suspicious. In the “early” days of chat rooms the vibe was more about hooking up. I think when you connect with like-minded people online who share similar interests, it’s invigorating. For 14 miserable years I sludged through not making friends in suburban Minnesota. I even began to turn bitter because I really tried. But no one had time or cared about history, writing, stories, rocks, etc. At work, I developed relationships but as a senior manager I always had to withhold “friendship.” No kidding, in that time, I made two friends. I missed my friends that I left behind in Montana and being with Kate was a big reason I wanted to move back to the west. And, well, you know how that’s going. So I really do appreciate my online friends, even if it is just online. I get the opportunity to share stories, discuss thought-provoking ideas, learn and be inspired. I think just disappearing is unsettling. One of the flash writers disappeared. I thought I’d see what she was up to and she was gone — her two websites were gone, her Twitter was gone and all the links on her gravatar broken. I didn’t know if I should worry, shrug it off or feel duped.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s crazy, isn’t it? On the one hand, I prefer for someone to actively delete their profiles rather than to just stop posting anything, because then at least you know it’s intentional and that they aren’t in the hospital or something. On the other hand, it makes you wonder what the heck could have happened to make them so determined to erase their entire online presence? A bit creepy either way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe respect, kindness and courtesy are principles that apply in all relationships – including the digital ones. Although this is not universally shared, my view is that as bloggers, we have a quasi-professional relationship with our followers and readers. So yes, just like a company can’t just shut down without leaving a notice up for a period of time – I believe the same rules should apply to the online world. I know a friend of mine follows my blog and she told me once that she looks forward to my ‘Lady in Transition’ email at the beginning of every week. She would most assuredly be emailing me wondering what was wrong if suddenly I stopped posting. And I for one would be glad she did – it just shows she cares. Sarah, I love your thought provoking posts and will most concerned if they suddenly stopped for now reason. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like to think of my digital friends as connections to other parts of the world. I don’t get out of the house much, and I hardly ever leave my state. Digital friends helps me experience the world, on a budget. I like to check in on them if they go missing, but I realize, it’s hard for me to get online, it’s probably hard for them too.


  7. I must say I was nearly guilty of this about two weeks ago. I wanted badly to shut the blog down, out of frustration for the whole process. I ended up writing a post about it. I got some great feedback and I felt reconnected.

    Though I have honestly thought of shutting down again. A constant battle. I would feel obligated to post something, even if it was short.


  8. Well, yes, I think we do owe an explanation. These people are still friends, even if they’re of the cyber variety. More than that, they’re often also colleagues, business partners, marketing teams, co-workers. We expect the people we interact with and follow and chat with to let us know when they disappear. I don’t think it’s wrong to check up on them, btw – I think it’s nice! There’s a difference between stalking and checking up 🙂


  9. For me it depends on the length and extent of the break as well as the habits of the person involved. For example, I stopped by your blog earlier in the week and saw that you hadn’t posted, but then I saw you on Twitter so I didn’t think much about it. And, for example, if you didn’t post for a few weeks, that wouldn’t concern me, but if Geoff Le Pard, who often posts every day, went away without saying anything I would assume something awful had happened.


  10. I wonder about this too, especially as I’m new on Facebook. I wonder if I’m being egoistical to even think people will miss me (!) or if it’s now a common courtesy.


  11. I definitely notice when friends drop out of the scene, and gives me concern. I’ll even shoot them an email to follow up. Some have come back with an explanation, while others go on as if nothing had happened, and still others I never hear from again.


  12. Great questions and and observations. I definitely have some twitter/blogging buddies who still have accounts but have been away from “the scene” since the fall if not longer. It is always really unsettling. In those cases, I know they’ve chosen to step away. Maybe it started as a few weeks and then turned into a month, then two, then so on. Sometimes I wonder what that must be like and what else I would end up doing with that extra time!


  13. I wonder about people too that I’ve connected with and then they “disappear.” Many of them are writing books and that occasionally seems to demand a time of focused intensity. But I love the heads up so I don’t worry.


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