On Monday, September 9, I will delete as much of myself as possible from the internet. I will chronicle the process here.
Some accounts I will reclaim and reactivate, some I will happily abandon. Some contacts I will lose and some I will maintain. Ultimately, though, it will be less a culling than…a tidying. An accounting. What, for instance, is the value of a third email account, or a second Twitter account, or a first Delicious account? (Jesus, why do I still have a Delicious account?)
I’ll maintain my Twitter handle (@ProbablyJames), as a digital lifeline. I’ll probably scrub it clean and start fresh, though. Clear my tweet history. Either unfollow a ton of accounts to pare it down or just unfollow everybody and start slowly rebuilding my list of people whose minute-to-minute updates matter most to me.
I haven’t decided about Facebook yet. I might maintain it for an extra week, just to keep from dropping immediately off the radar of those friends who use it exclusively for communicate. (An impulse that I will never, ever, ever understand.)
The plan is to write about the process of starting over. The challenge of cutting myself off only to selectively reestablish ties. The weighing of whether or not it’s worth it. The plan is to write about the tech that I use and the tech I’ve dropped. About the accounts I need or don’t need to lead a comfortable online existence. About the minutiae of changing some habits.
That’s the plan. We’ll see if it changes.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably my friend. And if you are my friend, then this (all of this, this whole thing) is my explanation of why I unfollowed/de-friended/unliked you online and then disappeared, only to (maybe) reappear a week or a month later to re-follow, re-friend, and re-like you.
I still love you all. There will just be fewer buttons for me to click to prove it.
A few notes:
Despite the ridiculous name I’ve assigned to this task (Project Vanish? Really? My only excuse is that I started mentally referring to it as such, in a tongue-in-cheek way, and now that’s just how I think of it. It’s brain-stuck.), I don’t actually think I can make myself vanish from the internet. Every-fucking-one keeps logs dating back to the Great Depression these days. It’s annoying. But I do plan to scrub away as much of the cruft as possible. You don’t care about the Facebook status I made in college (“JB Mulholland is…listening to Counting Crows’ August and Everything After on repeat!”) and neither do I. I want to make sure that my digital life is completely relevant, to you and to me.
Before anybody else can bring it up: I’m not trying to make some kind of statement, or pull some weird technological stunt (“My year as a Luddite: linkbait in twenty-three installments”). It’s just a thing. A thing that I am doing.
I’m aware that there are “Tweet It” and “Like It” buttons on the individual post pages. I’m aware that this seems wildly hypocritical. I don’t really care. Some people like to share stuff socially, even if I don’t. No skin off my nose, no skin off yours. All of our noses should maintain the appropriate amount of skin in this equation.