The self-deletion of an online profile, and something more

So... This really isn't a fun topic, but more like, some sort of underrated problem.

I didn't get the whole story, but based on what I got, it seems that it's still worth a discussion. If you know more about this story, please PM me.

This is a real story, but for protecting privacy, I'll use fake names for representing the peoples and sites in this story.

Keep in mind that, all the opinions in this is very subjective. And I'm not a profession in psychology.

It seems that all begins with A defending someone who said something harsh on site E. A was angry at that time, and also used harsh language there. The fight seems to be overheated, and there seems to be more people that hates A on site E, and thus, A got banned by a mod there.

A post part of the story on another site F. There, some people tried to calm her down, but she didn't get calmed. Due to some historical reasons, the mods on site F actually don't want people to talk too much about their bad feeling being on site E, and therefore A seems to be not so happy with unable to vent her anger on site F.

The next day, a mod on site E announced publicly that, since A can't control her manner properly, for the good of the whole site, she decided to permanent ban A. But things got worse.

A don't want to go to site E after she got banned, so she don't care if the ban is permanent. But A is not happy with the fact that the mod announce the ban publicly. Seems like such thing hurt A's feeling a lot.

A friend of A, say N, tried to help A getting better very hard. For N, A is one of the very first friend he met on site E and F. He seems to want to help A in order to not losing a friend. But his effort didn't pay off. After all these things, A is concerned about she doesn't have enough friend on site F to keep people from hurting her, and she deleted her whole profile.

Which made N shocked. N felt powerless after that since his effort was wasted. Now N decided to keep away from site E and site F for a while to calm down.

That's pretty much the whole story. I'm not good at story telling, and I didn't get the whole story. I'd say that, such thing actually happens a lot on the Internet, from what I've seen. Or at least, I'd almost get into such thing once before.

But why would I want to talk about this?

Because, there's a lot of unpleasant things behind this.

And the self-deletion of the profile is shockingly similar to someone committing a suicide.

A deleted her profile, which sounds like nothing, right? Actually, wrong. A didn't delete her profile for nothing. It's because she got too much pressure she couldn't handle, and thus she only find one way to get out of those: to leave, and not show up again. Which sometimes is also a cause for committing suicide it seems.

N's feeling got hurt a lot after A deleting her profile. Which is way too similar to the impact of real suicide: it hurts the feeling of people who cares the suicider a lot.

Thus... I don't know. Maybe we shall be more concern about this?

It won't be something easy to do. Suiciding is actually easier to prevent because there's a lot of attention on it, and eye-to-eye comforting is a lot more efficient. But, virtual suicide? No actual human would lose his life during the deletion of an online profile, but for people like us, who's on the other side of the Internet, the result is almost the same. We will lose a friend after this, at least for a long while.

Thus, I think we should all be more concerned about this. Because we don't want to lose a friend, offline or online. We may be able to prevent this from happening, but it would lead to another problem:


One of the reason it happened this time is that, we helped our friend in the wrong way. Sometimes talking seems to hurt the feeling of someone who's already been hurt. I admit, I also didn't do everything right. I said to her to be optimistic, but still stating that it might not work. Should I state the two-side of the "time will cure most things" out, or just state the good part out? I don't know. I chose to state the two sides out.

Other people seems to mainly said the good part. Only that, those sounds a little bit old. And actually, I guess there was way too many of those voices at that time, that made A feel like she's getting stared at by a lot of people.

Not a good thing.

We couldn't blame people who was trying to help. But... Maybe getting someone who has more knowledge on phychology to PM her, would be better? Is this possible in a public discussion board?

N's effort went to shouting out for A to try to protect A. However, even though this sounds what friends should do, it's a little... Too much at that time I guess. A wasn't calm down that much at that time, so maybe what N did was actually hurting A more. I guess A didn't want to be stared at, even though she want to express her feeling, but N's effort might made A feel like she's been staring even more.

Or, shall I say, sadly, N also intentionally contributed to the deletion of A's profile somehow.

How do we solve that?

Also, at least the deletion of an online profile isn't permanent, but, real suicide also isn't that easy to be solved...

We was told that, Internet is very powerful. It might solve problem that might be impossible to be solved with local knowledge resource. But, when this happens, we still can't get it right. Or even worse, there's so many people watching.

And speaking of online manner, it's necessary for everyone to control their feeling a bit. But, firstly, we can't always control it. We will get angry, and actually, we should be angry sometimes. However, by limiting the anger, it seems that we would be less likely to get some help.

We don't search for help when we got angry, because we usually won't realize that we need some help. But we do need some help sometimes. If we can't express our feeling out, it would be pretty painful. But by expressing those out, it would hurt other people's feeling, which is not a good move, and is the reason why such thing was banned in the first place.

So... I'm thinking of, maybe, some "barrier" would help? Just like, we would put a wall in front of the door to keep people from directly see through what's going on in the house outside.

A drop-down "spoiler" section would be great. We could hide out feeling behind a wall, but it would still be reachable to people outside, if they walk over the wall. And, if the reply section is also hid by default, it would be better, since certain discussion won't hurt people who don't want to see it.

But, sadly, not every comment system or chatting system supports this feature. For example, there's no protection for these on Disqus, which was the place where this story happened.

Maybe we should really ask people who design these system to be aware of this, and add some protection feature to the system, to prevent such damage? We need some privacy anyway.

And lastly, about the "publicly announcement of a ban" thing. This hurts. I can't say it's right or wrong, but, I kinda think that it has more good than bad. Even though I've also been "announced" publicly about my "nonsense" anger before. This rule is for people to be more aware about what they are doing, so I think it's good.

But... Maybe, if it's not that necessary, it should be prevented, and the same thing should be done via PM instead? I'm not sure.

Anyway, this is just some of my personal feeling about this. It's just me can getting away from this without writing a proper blog post about this. Please tell me what I got wrong, if you think I'm wrong. With respection, of course.

And, if you are setting up a blog for public discussion, I recommend you to use IntenseDebate as the comment system, because, even though it's kinda way too old, at least it hide the second-or-further-layer comments by default. And even though it's not responsive, and kinda being a zombie project (because Automation can't yield any money from it, I guess?), it still works not too bad, and very lightweight.

* May. 26th update * Things are almost back to normal now. A is back to Disqus now. Thankfully it's just an online account, not the life itself. But, I still can't say such deletion won't cause any problem. I think we should still try to prevent this as if we are trying to prevent suicide. Whatever opinion I said in this post, remains unchanged.  It's not really a big deal, but certainly worth getting more attention to.

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