Following my recent resignation from an MLM company with which I was an independent distributor I’ve been closing down the digital life that I created in support of that activity, and I’m only now realizing how difficult that task actually is. Indeed, it’s almost as complicated as closing down the artifacts of someone’s life following death.
A digital life
When I first started in the MLM, I had my own website that was replicated from the corporate website, but I also created a Facebook page, Twitter account, and accounts on various other social media sites. On Facebook I even created several location-specific pages as a way of marketing to specific geographic locations that I was interested in targeting. I posted ads on Craigslist and Backpage and numerous other sites as part of my marketing and product promotion activities. Now that I am no longer involved with the MLM company my replicated website has been deactivated, but it is now my responsibility to deconstruct the rest of the digital persona that I created.
Following a real life death, the family and friends of the deceased focus on insurance benefit claims, closing bank accounts, notifying the person’s place of employment, updating various records and various government and public organizations, and so on. It is amazing how many activities we engage in during life that require closure after death. It’s the same with one’s digital life, but in this instance I am playing the role of both the deceased and the loved one left behind to mourn the loss.
Killing the digital me
Each time I delete a profile and close an account I am simultaneously killing the digital me and mourning the loss of that part of who I was. Although I remained with the MLM for only a year, and my departure was my decision, the energy that I expended in creating the digital life that I lived as an independent distributor of that company was as tangible and real to me as my real life is to me. I worked hard at building myself online, and to now deconstruct it requires a heartlessness that I had not anticipated.
Records are key
I was careful to keep records of the various websites on which I had registered so that is assisting the process. Indeed, keeping records of one’s digital life is key when the digital persona that you are carefully building is tied to a transient business activity like participation in an MLM. Engaging with some of the policies and procedures of those websites that I happily accepted when registering is now an interesting activity – some websites will delete your account immediately while others give you a grace period of 14 days or 30 days or whatever in case you change your mind and decide to reactivate yourself. A self- resurrection of sorts. One blogging website even refuses to offer the option of deleting your account – once your join you cannot leave (a la “Hotel California”).
Deleting a digital life
It’s an odd feeling to delete one’s digital life in this manner. It’s like having multiple personalities and one day deciding that one particular personality no longer serves any purpose. Maybe that’s the core of it – I no longer need this particular MLM-related digital personality but my other digital personalities remain, because I have multiple digital lives represented through my personal email accounts and Facebook account and whatever. Maybe deleting a digital life is more akin to abandoning a part of oneself and walking away, like one might put aside a once-treasured toy because one is now “too old” to be seen with the item. Some of my digital life will continue to live on somewhere in the vastness of cyberspace but I will no longer engage with it, because I have mourned it and moved on.