The Social Web is full of Nomads. We try out a service, set up camp, and constantly move from place to place as we discover new and better places to settle down our social presence. I’m no stranger to this myself. I’ve given up my share of services in the past, and I am far from loyal to any one service. IMO, making yourself loyal to any one service brings bias, keeps you from discovering and truly learning about other services, and prevents you from benefiting the most from tools that could actually benefit you. It’s for that reason you have, and can expect to see me constantly move from service to service as you read my content here on this blog. What I like now may not be what I like later. I even quit Twitter and Buzz for short periods of time. I think there’s courtesy however when you do this – I’ve done this both the wrong and right way on various services I’ve joined and left. Here is the right way to leave a service:
If you chose to no longer use a service, disassociate your accounts. It’s that easy. If you’re no longer going to invest time in a service, the polite thing to do is remove ways they can comment on your posts, interact with you, etc. so as no one has the false impression that you’re listening. No need to slam the door on the way out, no need to continue talking trash about the service. Just leave it alone, remove your presence, and everyone will continue to remember you in the way you were.
It’s also important to not remove data you previously put there. Many have important conversations, referential points that they may like to refer back to later. Deleting your previous content removes history that was there in the first place. If none of your content is written for history, make that clear in your Bio so others know before they participate in your conversations.
I’m getting tired of seeing people leave services myself and others may still be using and love, leaving us thinking they are still listening, and that we can still create conversations with them. If you’re importing your content, it tells those following you they can discuss that content with you. If you’re not willing to listen, don’t put content there. So on services like FriendFeed and Facebook, turn on notifications if you’re importing your content there. If not, disassociate your accounts. If you’re leaving Buzz, delete your Google Profile (your content is not deleted when you do that, FYI, as I learned from experience). If you’re leaving Twitter, it might be worth turning off any automated services you’re using to post content there and post a polite message saying where they can find you.
There’s nothing wrong with leaving a service. What is wrong is allowing others to have the perception you are listening when you aren’t.