Deathly Deceptions and Disappearances

On The Vergecast episode dated February 1, 2023, Katharine Trendacosta and Alex Cranz discussed the phenomenon of faking one’s death online. The most recent high profile example being Susan Menchen which got a whole story in The New York Times. The discussion is very fascinating and highly recommend a listen.

It got me thinking about my own reoccurring thoughts about what it would be like to disappear from the internet, at least publicly. I think it is the sheer ridiculousness of the idea that fascinates me. I have spent my life online ever since I had access to broadband internet. Between web forums, IRC, Google+, the fediverse my social identity is fundamentally linked with the internet. It would be dying a social death.

Part of it is also a general exhaustion from socialization that comes with being introverted. I /love/ socializing online but it is very exhausting which leads to these fantasies of doing the most antisocial thing I can do and disappear.

Would it even be possible? Yes, I think it is. All aspects of my public social identity are controlled by me. With a few clicks of a button all of it could go away. All my various websites, newsletters, the fediverse instance I host. Poof, gone. All that will remain is the memories in people’s minds.

Would I do it? No, not at the current moment. I don’t see any reason to pull a Susan Menchen or a less manipulative equivalent. My online friend groups are wonderful and a positive addition to my day to day life. I also /like/ being publicly online. It gives me a sense of agency in my own existence. Like a hey, this is me, I’m here and I exist.