by Alan W. Silberberg
There it is. The giant following your efforts on social media have given you. It's all of your hard work; your networking, your relationships, your virtual sweat and sometimes literal tears, wrapped in a neat digital package. All those friendly faces, maybe some trolls, maybe some exes, and maybe some total strangers, or many strangers. Social media is different for everyone, we each get out of it what we put into it, and its use is definitely highly subjective and personal.
But something is changing. You are not really sure what yet. You have eclipsed the initial tip toeing around social media and mobile sites. You have some "cred" in your chosen areas of time and investment spent. You might even have achieved minor stardom; in the way that only the sometimes self-reverberating echo chamber that is now social media allows anyone.
Then one night you are sitting at a friends' house bemoaning all the extra email, all the spam you get, and why are you really reading about your middle school friend who lives half a world away and who you have not seen since. Then it hits you. What if I could just end it all? Commit virtual suicide -- social media hara kiri if it were. The thought is tantalizing for some. For most it would be a passing thought, like the idea of real suicide, most people might possibly think of it, but would never do it. But for a growing number of people, it is more than a passing fancy. They are doing it for real.
Facebook is concerned enough about this very real scenario they have actually blocked at least one such service that specializes in doing exactly that: erasing your social media history and presence completely. Other social media companies may soon follow in similar blocking.
The consequences of erasing social media presences completely is barely being understood associal media itself is continually growing and changing. But there are many large societal questions attached to this like, what happens to politicians and their staff when caught doing things like Anthony Weiner's epic Twitter scandal (aka #Weinergate?) Or what happens when a Government or official gets caught doing it? Even more weird; is the idea of a Government official creating a fake account for some nefarious purpose, then using one of these services to erase it completely, thus basically fulfilling much of George Orwell's writings in his famous book, "1984."
This is not fiction. This is happening already, at least the part about social media hari kari. The rest we may never know, or will we?
Alan is the CEO of Silberberg Innovations and found of Gov20LA and a Principal Analyst with Constellation Research Group. He blogs once a week for What's Trending about politics online.