Here’s a truth about online communities – Twitter, Facebook, even the blogosphere. It’s easy to leave. In real life, it’s not so easy. Unless you’re going into the witness protection program, there are things you need to take care of before you exit. You have to pack your belongings, for instance, maybe sell a house, forward your mail.

Your neighbors, noticing the boxes, furniture and moving van in your driveway, ask where you’re going and you tell them the truth or make up a lie, but in either case, you tell them something. Then you say goodbye. In real life, you don’t very often skip the goodbye part.

It’s different online. There’s less to consider. You can be gone with the push of a button and most of the time that’s okay. That’s just exactly how the online world is supposed to be – fluid and ever-changing.

But twice now, I’ve felt the sting of an unexpected exit. Someone I’ve become fond of disappears without a word, and I feel stunned and sad and a little bit dorky; old fashioned in my wish for a proper goodbye…

I know it’s life. I know letting go (and in fact not holding things or people too tightly in the first place) is the best way to not hurt. I’m reasonably sure neither departure had anything to do with me, and probably neither person thought I’d care or even notice.

The thing is, I did care, and I did notice. And knowing that life moves on doesn’t really make it feel okay.

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