Recently I was reading about the disappearance of a well-known computer programmer named Mark Pilgrim, who authored a lot of books, and then dropped off the Internet in 2011. Mark was alive and well, but he removed all his accounts, removed his books from the Internet (the Dive into Python book is now available here). Apparently, years earlier, another famous person online did the same thing, and hasn’t been seen since.
One article described this as Info-Suicide: killing your own “online” identity.1
There’s something kind of interesting about the idea of removing your online identity completely. In the past, I sometimes wanted to delete the blog and other online accounts. I felt that it would give me more peace and quiet, and also allow me to focus on other projects. On the other hand though, it’s really nice to stay connected with people. I’m so busy with work and parenting that I don’t get to meet people very often around me (most of them don’t have the same interests anyway), so it’s nice to meet people online who do share the same interests.
But still, the Internet really isn’t that useful. It’s great for finding information, but it’s no substitute for real conversations or real projects. Most of what people see or read on the Internet is just noise.
So, it’s a nice idea to take oneself off of the Internet, but I have no plans to do that. I invested a lot of time and energy in things and I like providing useful information; it makes me happy to see when someone finds Korean Buddhist history useful, or Rinzai Zen, etc. So, I don’t want to remove those posts.2
On the other hand though, it would be nice to take a break from the Internet for a while: a few days, weeks, months. But even if you want to pull yourself away from the Internet, it’s actually kind of hard to do it. 😉
But totally removing oneself from the Internet may be more trouble than its worth in my opinion. It’s bad for the people who depend on your work, and causes a lot of headaches for people.
1 Real suicide, though, is no joke.
2 I might remove the YouTube videos someday though. It was a fun project, but it was a pretty amateur effort, and I question how useful it is. Plus, making videos feels like a full-time job