I recently stumbled across a website that will aid users in destroying their entire virtual “identity” on any social networking site. It goes by the name of “Seppukoo” which is a Japanese term for ritual suicide. In short, you provide the website with a few basics on the account you want to eliminate and it does all the work for you. In moments, your MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social site identity is gone forever (of course, you could always create another one at some point in time.)
The site brings to mind something I’ve often considered and been concerned with. That is, are we getting to the point where our online lives are more important than our real ones? For certain, I love reconnecting with old friends on Facebook. My LinkedIn profile provides people with a bit of background into who I am professionally. I used to visit MySpace a lot but recent shifts in social networking have put MySpace in a banal category. Other than artist sites for music, I really don’t visit there much anymore. I can see the value of social networking in today’s society but I worry that real relationships are being sacrificed for a digital rendering. An entire alternate universe was created a few years back to facilitate such relationships. “Second Life” has its own currency, churches, coffee shops, and more. Better still, you can create an identity that looks nothing like you so don’t have to be self-conscious of your weight, lack of hair, short stature, etc. I’ve read recently of a marriage that ended when a wife found out her husband was having an “affair” with a woman through second life. That’s how far we’ve come in eliminating a real connection with other people. Blogger Sandy Atwood discussed this in the context of ministry on her blog for pastor’s wives last month and her comments are worth reading.
Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, we need to find the redeeming traits of social networking and focus on those rather than decide to kill off our entire online persona. Of course, you might want to start fresh so such an action might be worth taking if your online sites have less than acceptable content on them. Social networking has allowed me the opportunity to make new friends in addition to reconnecting with the old ones. I now have friends all over the world I’ve met through Twitter and those relationships are great. What I’ve not done is let the sites take over my life. It’s easy to look like you’re online 24/7 but you CAN take steps to lessen the time you network. Take time to go out and sit somewhere new. Take a walk. Find a stranger who might be open to conversation and have a real talk instead of a text messaging back and forth. Laugh with someone you know. Those types of relationships are the ones you will remember. Make them a priority.