…but I think they fall into four broad categories:
The majority simply stop showing up, without explanation or warning. I’ve sometimes sent an e-mail when it’s an author or regular commenter who has vanished without any indication of dissatisfaction or discomfort. Sometimes, it just turns out that busyness of one kind or another has taken over, sometimes only temporarily. Sometimes, for whatever unstated reason, the person who has lost the habit just never picks it up again.
Others are polite enough to state clear reasons, either in an e-mail or within the blog, in a way that gives others a chance to address misunderstandings or at least to say good-bye, good luck, no hard feelings…
A few force their own banning by disruptive behavior. We’ve had one or two of them.
A few, however, feel the need to “storm out,” typically while making some charge or claim, taking some Parthian shot, whose answer they are unwilling to consider, or to be known to have absorbed. Their exits usually come at the end of discussions in which they have been presented with facts or arguments that they, for whatever reason, would prefer not to confront. The phony pretext erases and replaces the actual cause of discomfort, the unfair rebuke exposing us in a moment to the kind of insensitivity or even hostility that the one who rebukes must feel we – and especially whichever one of us he happens to single out (not always me) – have shown to him over extended periods.
I imagine miguel or Sully or Howard or JEM or Peter or Zoltan returning, perhaps briefly or against their will, to see the reaction, if any, or telling himself (none of the women has checked out in this way, hurling accusations) that if we really valued his contribution we would chase after him, like the beloved in the imagination of the unrequited lover after the ultimatum. I think we’ve probably all been there in one way or another, both in the real world and the virtual one, but they obviously have no interest in whatever sympathy we might have offered them, just as their behavior tends to justify our failure to offer more of it – or to pursue them.
Cuz at some level they’re right. We’re not in love, and that part about being friends was mostly just “being nice.”