One very common misconception that I see online is that your social media accounts are important because “that’s where your friends are”. This line of thinking is more common among the chronically online types than other groups, a group I am very familiar with as I am one. Thankfully, or unfortunately for some, your “online friends” really do not care about you and will not miss you if you disappeared one day.
For any long-time watchers of this site, they’d know that, very early on in this site’s history, I had a Discord account. This account was then banned by Discord, you can read about this incident here. The important thing to note is that, in the article, I said “For everything besides purely business related transactions, I will cease using Discord. If you need me, contact me via a preferred way”. I have stuck with that to the best of my ability, and it’s been about one year as of releasing this article since that happened.
So, what actually happened after my Discord account went kaput, and I was only on Matrix? At first, I lost everyone, and then people who did care about me went out of their way to contact me via other methods and followed me to the new platform. Some of them opted to set up Matrix bridges, so they could continue communication via Discord with me. Everyone ended up being axed from my life and disappeared, however, that didn’t matter.
The truth about “E-friends”
You probably have a lot of people you talk to if you’re a terminally online Discorder. You may consider these people “friends”, but what you should know is that these “friends” aren’t actual friends, they’re just people who get a kick out of talking to you. They’re acquaintances at best, even those you spend a lot of time playing video games with. These people can, and will, replace you at the drop of a hat once you no longer are convenient entertainment for them.
Internet people will abandon you if other internet people want them to, they’ll backstab you if they think it’ll benefit them, they’ll ghost you if they find you boring, or you don’t do the same things as them, and generally, people who spend too much time online tend to be mentally ill nutcases without an actual life. Nutcases tend to also be bad friends, so there’s a good chance that these facts about internet people will compound.
Only those people who see some level of value in you will put the minuscule amount of effort required into staying in contact if you hop platforms. These people might be your actual digital friends and will stick their neck out for you in a pinch or work with you on projects you have. These are the valuable people that you found online.
I only had a handful of people who were at the time willing to swap platform to stay in contact with me. Four to be exact. Out of the hundred or so people I interacted with, only four percent of them cared enough about me to install a chat client or open a program in their browser to contact me. That’s how little 96% of people I knew cared.
A majority of the people you know online do not care about you, even the ones you think do likely can’t be asked to do something minor to stay in contact with you. Because of this, swapping platforms from something like Discord to something like Matrix really shouldn’t be a big deal once you realize how little value most people put in you.
The value of internet people
Most terminally online people are already in themselves unimportant people, but, you’ll realize, they’re usually exceptionally worthless once you assess their value to you personally. Most internet people do not care about you, so if you get very involved in caring about them, you’re likely making a bad decision. This means that their opinions don’t matter, their tastes don’t matter, their feelings don’t matter, etc. Caring about what group chats think, for the most part, is not important. If you’re up at night thinking about what a group of discord users thinks about you when you haven’t been outside in a week and haven’t talked to anyone but immediate family in months, you don’t have your priorities straight.
The only exception I would carve out for this is if you have a true digital friend who will have your back, something that you can only really discover by seeing how far they’d be willing to go to see you again. Similarly, if you are working on a project with someone, it’s wise to treat them like how you would a real person, formalities and all, because they’re working on something constructive with you. Drawing the line with this may be a bit difficult, but it’s clear that working on software as a team is much more of a legitimate project than building something in minecraft.
A fair warning on hopping
Hopping is the act of picking up and dropping identities or platforms. If you do this, you are creating an ever-increasing barrier to people keeping in contact with you. This type of behavior quickly becomes non-trivial if done consistently and for unjustifiable reasons. It’s reasonable to cite privacy issues for a reason to drop Discord, it’s unreasonable to purge everyone in your life and expect them to come back every 2 to 4 months.