I have a lot of followers and follow a lot of people. I’ve talked to each and everyone and I have memories when I see their profile picture or name. But, I have too many; I reached the limit of “people I follow” long ago, so I pick new friends more slowly. Why? I hate pruning.
The sweet part is “yay new friend”.
The bitter part: When I go to “Not Yet on Google+” and I see a list of profiles that no longer exist.
I remember each of them. They are a person. Very real. Maybe the only contact would be the occasional “Hi” or a +1 here and there. But it’s enough to connect a real person to a real person.
But now, poof
Where are they? I don’t intrude on people’s lives so I never ask for more information that someone wants to give me. They have a right to their privacy.
But… they’re gone.
Will I ever talk to them again? Will the find me in the future? Often that’s exactly what happens; weeks, months, years later, I get a message on some other network, “*HEY KEN REMEMBER ME? i WAS A9S8JF9SD8J ON ADSJASDF NETWORK*”
and I actually make a happy noise. That’s why when someone says, “I’m deleting my asodifjaod account” I will, every time genuinely make an appeal for them to stay. I know it’s a game some people play to get paid attention to but you know what? Isn’t that the POINT of the whole social networking experience?
PAY ATTENTION TO ME?
[maybe not so dramatically as that]]
So, as best as I’m able, I do.
But when someone is gone… it’s out of my hands [unless I want to go “Private Investigator” on someone, but no, I’m not going to do that. Sometimes people want to just “disappear” and that’s their choice]
Still it’s sad. I haven’t found my friend who left in 5th Grade when his parents moved back to Cuba. I know I won’t find him. World is too big and disconnected and he has a common name (Miguel Trujillo).
But at least with online friends, there’s no need for “forever gone”. Even if forces outside yourself (parents, family, life circumstances) take away your Internet, eventually you can find your way back.
But it’s always hard on those who remain. I move on – there’s always the people I already know and new people I don’t know yet.
But those 15 people whose G+ accts are as if they never existed in the first place that I had to remove from my circles? They live on in my memories. They are fallen soldiers of some kind to me, and I may have been the last to see their name.
It’s a reminder that, at some point in the future, no matter how awesome I am, that point could happen for me as well. Name Removed from circle. From all circles. Of every kind and everywhere.
The moment the last person forgets even a tiny piece of something I helped influence – yet, is that even possible? .. It’s not even my name that matters. It’s the reverberating pulses of some kind that I’m a part of that continue forward through Time, influencing things I will never see, ideas in the minds of others I will never know.
This, though, is what I believe: You are not your name. You are more than your name. You are something more – part of a great machine we all participate in that tumbles haphazardly into the future.
It was here long before we arrived and will continue long after our bodies are no more.
You matter. To the 15 who will never see this message, and to the others who will (YOU – YES YOU, reading this right now), this message is for you. It is also for myself. In each case, I know it’s true.