No one died. I need to make that clear right up front. But removing one’s profile from a social networking site is a kind of death, a social suicide of sorts that can be quite disconcerting to other participants.
It definitely was not the classic “Goodbye Cruel World”, histrionic sort of exit. There _was_ a heated discussion, largely on the topic of Ayn Rand. (Which is not one of my favorite things to talk about; honestly I found Atlas Shrugged more or less unreadable and usually parrot some bit of popular opinion when Ms. Rand and her writings come up– although my friend Holly is expanding my perspective a bit where Rand is concerned.) Except for once asking a clarifying question (which was completely ignored) I didn’t say anything, just sat back and watched the two participants have at it. It did seem to me that the man made a few comments that certainly could be construed as misogynistic and condescending. The woman did an admirable job, it seemed to me, of not rising to the bait. A moderator did step in and asked both participants to cool it. The moderator was at first ignored, though the discussion did die down a short time later. The man announced other obligations, thanked the woman and then left. Fifteen minutes later he was history.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one standing there feeling a bit shocked. On social networking sites it is So easy to get to know a whole bunch of people; so easy to fall into routines and come to count on people to be there, day after day. So easy to miss the fragility and fleetingness of the connection, which really can be irrevocably ended just by pressing a button marked ‘Delete My Profile’. Today, as the #SocialEmpire group continues along, seemly without a blip, I find myself thinking about other friends I’ve made and lost online over all these years. Thinking how important and impactful so many of those relationships have been. How amazingly enduring at times, and how utterly fleeting. Easy come. Easy go.