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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

‘Web suicide’ should die

Whether you’re sick and tired of looking up from Facebook to see you’ve wasted another four hours or you’re just fed up with the Twitter TMI, you’re in luck. The company Web 2.0 Suicide Machine offers a free program that will permanently log you out of social networking sites like LinkedIn and delete all of your “”virtual”” friends in a fully automated process that takes under an hour.

Committing web suicide, as far as this still-living person can tell, involves entering your username and password to the Web 2.0 Web site and watching the “”machine”” create a new password, so you can never log in again, and delete all of your virtual friends. (Sorry, little miss popular: it doesn’t work on profiles with more than 4,000 friends.) The site suggests that it would take a person hours, if not days, to do the same thing manually, and that merely deleting your account is just not a complete enough version of Web death.

The creators of the site seem to think this is a kind of humanitarian mission. One of the frequently asked questions reads, “”Why do we think that web2.0 suicide machine is not unethical?”” Double negatives aside, the makers respond “”everyone should have the right to disconnect. Seamless connectivity and rich social experience offered by web2.0 companies are the very antithesis of human freedom.”” Wait, what? If we believe that nonsensical non-sequitur, the site seems to be suggesting they offer some strange version of web slavery.

Even if they are trying to say that the sites the machine can “”free”” a person from are commiting digital bondage, this takes the act of being a reborn Luddite a bit too far. If you want to free yourself from the soul-sucking atrocities of Internet applications, you shouldn’t need another application to accomplish that.

Considering the company’s logo is a noose and their error message reads, “”Sorry, Machine is currently killing someone else,”” it’s hard to tell whether this site is poking fun or taking itself way too seriously. Their informational video features a man wearing a fedora sitting in an armchair next to a palm tree in a way that could easily be ironic. Later in the video he is seen “”enjoying his new Internet-free life”” by holding hands with four sour-faced children.

The frequently asked questions section offers even more gems that make a person question what, exactly, is going on here. One of the featured questions is “”If I kill my online friends, does it mean they’re dead in real life?”” Rest assured, masses oppressed by the ways of the evil Internet: The answer is an enthusiastic “”No!””

The motivation of the site is still unclear — the application is free, and the site has no advertisements to generate revenue. The humanitarian effort of deleting MySpace pages that have been inactive since 2004 hardly seems enough to drive this endeavor, especially considering Facebook and Twitter are considering legal action against the site. It does require you to enter your password and username to “”commit”” your “”suicide,”” so maybe this is a very elaborate low-level identity theft scam.

If you are worried that your life, family, and free will are being taken over by the addictive nature of FarmVille, it would probably be a better first step to just delete the account yourself.

The most exciting possible result of this Web site is by far the prospect of people who have “”committed suicide”” deciding to re-join Facebook after they realize virtual friends are way less annoying than flesh-and-blood ones. Move over, virtual Kevorkian — we could have a race of Internet zombies on our hands.

— Anna Swenson is an English sophomore. She invites you to send your thoughts, rebuttals, and suggestions for how to survive the Web-zombie apocalypse to letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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