Vanishing from Social Media

Food for Thought

Cary @digitalwong disappeared off the face of the Internet after I had lunch with him. He travels around the world to eat at super-fancy restaurants. He messaged me that he would be in New York for a few days, so I suggested a decidedly un-fancy restaurant in the Lower East Side. We talked about a lot of different things. I felt like I finally got to know him pretty well. There is something to be said for face-to-face conversations.

Then he vanished. I never got his email or phone number. He doesn’t seem to have a Facebook account. His Twitter account is dormant. There are many Cary Wong’s on LinkedIn, and none of them look like him. He has no website either. For all I know, he could be dead. Maybe he got shot after we parted, but I don’t see any obituaries for “Cary Wong” in the last few months.

Vanishing from social media appears to be trendy. Many people I know disappeared and came back this year, but I was able to contact them through other means. This is the first time I have none. The reason for all of them was mental health. One of them sent me a photo of a jacuzzi with an ocean view to let me know that he was OK. So, in all likelihood, Cary will come back with a backlog of photos from fancy restaurants. But here is the thing; I don’t know. It’s a type of torture.

“Ghosting” is apparently trendy too. That’s when someone you know suddenly cuts off all forms of communication with you without any explanations. Apparently, this is the default method of breaking up relationships these days. A subtler form that happens more often is when someone doesn’t respond to your email for days. You are left wondering if it ended up in the spam folder, if you should send it again, if he is away on vacation, if you said something offensive, or if his reply somehow got lost. A lot of unnecessary mental energy must be invested.

It is no wonder people need to disconnect for mental health reasons. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only loser who doesn’t disconnect and diligently responds to every message as soon as possible in order to spare people from the torturous anxiety.