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Social networking: easy in, tough out.

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Since the beginning of Twitter, and the before time of blogging and IM and ad-hoc websites and IRC and BBS systems, I’ve generally been well-connected to my friends.

Now I’m seeking a less-connected lifestyle. It was easy slipping into the inviting waters of the Web, where your acquaintances take on the trappings of “friends” and your friends become something else, exhibitionists or transparent.

I value the experiences that I’ve enjoyed through the various social services. Now it’s time to withdraw and focus on private projects and building robust, genuine connections with the people I love and not merely “like”. Getting out of the water is not as simple, as with most activities that build habitual dependencies and involve familiar appearances.

First I cut out Twitter, then Facebook, then my years-old Gmail identity, along with its social network component and my instant messaging presence. I clipped the wings of my bit.ly account and RunKeeper. All but a few services I really took pleasure from, Flickr and WordPress and a limited Google+ account centered on my long time pobox.com identity.

Loosed, but not really “disconnected,” I find that I wonder what people are doing and I don’t hear from people much. My obsession over what certain people are up to remains a constant bother and I find myself checking twitter and google+ to get satisfaction. I’m hoping the interest will fade soon, as I’d rather invest that emotional energy in a two-way relationship than a spectator sport.

In time I suspect I’ll feel less inclined to chase shadows online, but the process of getting loose of this voyeur culture is far more difficult than getting into it.

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