There are as many uses of social networking services as there are users using them. While it can be tempting to assume that Facebook for example is just about playing Mob Wars and collecting ‘friends’ as if they were Pokemon (a notion popular with some media outlets), many people use such services to have heart felt interactions with people they care about. Sometimes these are interactions that due to a myriad of reasons – including geographical distance – just can’t happen by any other means.
People, in effect, opt in to a relationship with you. And the flip side of this is that they can also opt out of that relationship at any moment. Sometimes they just won’t have the time to devote to that interaction. Perhaps their (if you’ll forgive the expression) ‘real life’ will obscure their need or desire for online communications. Perhaps they are suddenly without the means to access the Internet. Some people will decide that they are suffering from data overload and quit using the Internet altogether. Some people will decide they have no need for the particular website or service and delete their account or profile. And as the user, the consumer if you will, this flexibility is desirable and empowering.
But as someone left behind it can be bewildering and heartbreaking. It may be some time before you even realise that a friend has left your social circle. You may not have any information about their motivations for leaving. If you haven’t communicated with them via other means you may not be able to communicate with them again. And if they’ve decided to abstain from online communications altogether it won’t matter how many emails you send, you may be left forever wondering what happened to them.
I respect each individual’s right to use or not use these resources as they see fit. I would just hope that if those relationships mean anything to you at all that you offer some consultation before an abrupt departure.