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on deleting journals and online communities

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Sep. 14th, 2003 | 08:18 am
mood: stressed

Kia (hjartad) didn't delete her journal, nor did seraphinhunter. I'm glad. Andrealyn (andrealyn) did so because of stress from outside people who found out about her slashy ways. Hope (angstslashhope) did it because LJ has been eating her life -- I can so understand.

But when someone deletes her journal, it breaks the community. All the things I wrote to her disappear. All the conversations evaporate. We may have saved the fics, but not the chat. It may not be meant to undo things so much, but it does. And that hurts.

I've been online a long time. A really long time. BBSs, newsgroups, mailing lists. Mostly on The Well. I've known people there for over ten years. We've been through a lot together: love, marriages, moves, jobs, crises, kids, death of friends, death of parents, and wrenchingly, death of children. Let no one say online isn't a real community. Venue is not the important thing, connection is. LJ is very much like that for me too.

One of the more complicated tools on The Well is the 'mass scribble'. It goes through and takes out every response on every topic for that user name. It is not just self-directed, it damages every conversation that person has every been part of. A guy named Blair did that on The Well, and a couple of weeks later, he killed himself.

(Howard Reingold wrote about it in Virtual Communities, he's a great writer and everything he says jibes with my memories of that time.)

That means when I see people deleting or threatening to delete their journals, it gets to me in an emotional way. Probably inappropriate. I know you aren't likely to kill yourselves. But between the loss of community memory and the idea of losing friends, and the fear that someone will do something permanent, I hate it.

A Tech Solution There ought to be a "suspend journal" function to disable new comments and optionally make everything friends-only. And, to remove temptation, disable friends-list viewing. At least that way, it could be frozen but still there.

In the meantime, if you feel like deleting your journal, just stop reading it, direct lj comments to a different email address, and go away for a while. Maybe even turn off your computer! Come back if and when you are ready, but don't deprive us of who you were when you were with us. Especially your friends, don't push us away permanently. Please?

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Comments {10}


(no subject)

from: sheldrake
date: Sep. 14th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)

I'm really glad you posted this. The other day I was in an extremely dark mood, and was temped, for a second, to delete my journal. It didn't last any longer than that because I realised I'd only be back the next day, reinstating it and looking silly. It was a nasty impulse, destructive and self-destructive. I just wanted, in that moment, to lash out and break something. Erm, anyway, I don't really know what my point is, but obviously I didn't do it, and I'm not about to. I suppose not everyone experiences online community the same way, but for me it's a real and important thing, and any damage done to it is real and important too.

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(no subject)

from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 14th, 2003 10:38 am (UTC)

I'm very glad you didn't! And that I'm not the only one who sees the fabric of community as worth keeping intact.

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