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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}

the night is a very dark time for me

(no subject)

from: olivia_ramirez
date: Sep. 15th, 2003 08:38 am (UTC)

The suspend-journal option sounds ideal for those who want to get away from LJ. I did delete my LJ (as you well know) and I know I caused more anxiety with friends then I felt at the time. Your idea of redirecting LJ notifications is a good one too, must remember that in case there is a next time I don't want to know about LJ.

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