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  1. 27FUTURETENSE-master675When Ottessa Moshfegh published her debut novel, “Eileen,” last August, she did so without an online publicity apparatus.

    Vanity Fair noted that Ms. Moshfegh, 34, was an anomaly because she had neither social media profiles nor a website. There wasn’t much personal information floating around about her, either. Ms. Moshfegh had made herself (apart from her work) somewhat un-Googleable.

    As distress and distaste swirl around issues of privacy, exhibitionism and other occupational hazards of social media, a select few holdouts of the tech-savvy age are following Ms. Moshfegh’s example. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, 90 percent of American adults ages 18 to 29 used a social networking site; more than three-quarters of those 30 to 49 did. (The percentages for those who have online access were, expectedly, slightly higher.)

    This leaves a stubbornly resistant minority that isn’t focusing its energies on just one or two social media accounts, as is customary for people who find the whole enterprise overwhelming or irrelevant. They are eschewing it completely: sharing zero voluntary personal information on the web.

    A main criticism of social media is its vending of user data to interested buyers. “All it does is provide a vulnerable attack surface to the world,” wrote a pseudonymous commenter on a Reddit thread asking people why they weren’t on Facebook. “Every service it claims to provide, I already have, without me, my friends and family having our privacy compromised and sold to every comer.”

    Since one is barraged with hundreds of online and offline advertisements a day, though, this may seem like a benign issue. But something more pernicious may be looming, said Patrick Flanery, whose forthcoming novel, “I Am No One,” deals explicitly with surveillance and data collection.

    “We are betraying things about our location and social relationships,” said Mr. Flanery, 40. “Even if it may only be used for corporations to sell us stuff, then that’s also assuming that the corporations collecting that data aren’t moving toward a different emphasis — that they’re only engaged in a kind of selling, rather than something that is a government by proxy.”

    As for the genuine, not-by-proxy government, our fears about its intrusion — which reached their zenith after Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency practices in 2013 — may have diverted attention from purely corporate oversight of our online habits. We are so focused on casting the N.S.A. as a modern-day Stasi that we have become less suspicious of Facebook, Twitter and the like, except when news articles crop up about their collaboration with the government.

    With the phrase “vulnerable attack surface to the world,” the Reddit user suggested another problem beyond Orwellian surveillance: We are now one another’s Big Brother. Social media accounts further expose oneself to hackers or, via a single tone-deaf misstep, a global public shaming.

    Yet even outside of these obviously dangerous waters, releasing an identity into the digital world remains discomfiting to some. Once your data is online, it no longer belongs wholly to you; subject to reposting and comments, the data you generate gets tossed into the Internet’s melting pot.

    Mr. Flanery, who joined Facebook in 2007 but now maintains only a public page, said he was initially unconcerned about what he posted because he was judicious about whose friend requests he accepted. But as his roster of connections expanded, he became more cautious. “I was posting willy-nilly and commenting and being quite free, as if I was talking to a closed circle of friends,” he said. “It was only gradually that I began to realize the visibility of my posts on other people’s pages, to a body whose makeup I couldn’t police.”

    Not only can information circulate beyond intended recipients, but people like Isabel Howe, 33, the executive director of the Authors League Fund in New York, find the one-size-fits-all approach to social networks too unwieldy for their personalities. “I wouldn’t call myself a secretive person,” she said. “But I do want the freedom to vary my level of self-exposure according to circumstance.”

    One can, of course, activate stringent privacy measures, set up alternative accounts for specific relationships (like one that excludes co-workers) or not post anything and simply “lurk.” But that’s a headache, and not foolproof; another user can still tag or refer to your avatar in a way that feels more invasive than merely naming you.

    “It was making me hate everyone,” Ms. Moshfegh, who closed her Facebook and Twitter accounts before her book came out, said in a phone interview.

    “I don’t know anybody who comes across in any kind of positive way on social media,” she said. “It made me feel bad, like there was a standard for living that I didn’t even know about, and that I hated so much that, if I ever had to be in touch with that standard, I was going to kill somebody.”

    The blatant desire for recognition is what most irritated her. “It seemed like everybody wants to be a celebrity,” Ms. Moshfegh said. “As soon as anybody started to know who I was, being on Facebook was so incredibly tacky.”

    Ms. Moshfegh has the advantage, it must be noted, of a professional team behind her to publicize her efforts. Likewise, it’s no great sacrifice when someone of George Clooney’s stature swears off social media, as he has little to gain and much to lose from it. But for a person in the early stages of a career dependent on gaining attention, whether one is a literary novelist or an entrepreneur, to do so is a genuine risk.

    Ms. Moshfegh, though, pointed to some of the pitfalls of being an active social networker. “I remember putting in my name to see what people were saying on Twitter about me a lot, and occasionally finding something negative and being really upset by it,” she said.

    And not being on social media can, in fact, yield brand-building benefits, especially for an artist.

    As hoi polloi shamelessly promote themselves, bestow disingenuous praise upon colleagues in hopes of receiving it in return and peck out snarkily hashtagged jokes during awards shows, the person who remains offline accrues mystique and is viewed as nobly intentioned, an elusive object of fascination rather than an accessible subject of self-glorification. Who knows how they’re spending their time? Likely working hard for some transcendent and paradigm-shifting purpose, their online absence suggests.

    But post a tweet, and everyone knows what you’re doing at that moment: idly looking at a screen, chasing after notice.