A funny thing happened yesterday. I just wrote that. In seriousness. Actually, I wrote "yesterday a funny thing happened" first, then changed it to sound better to my ear. And of course it did. I've heard that line a thousand times in my life. The sort of standard intro line to many anecdotes. It sounds right. But really, yesterday a funny thing did happen. In the morning I received an email from one of those businussy social-networking sites called "Linked-In" asking me, for the umpteenth time, whether I'd accept a linking-in request from some person I know. This site apparently operates like Facebook, but has adopted the quasi-novel veneer of Facebook-for-professionals. It's the resume-Facebook where you have a sphere of online "professional friends" who allow other professional friends to see if there are any more distant professional friends who might fit the bill, do the trick, get the job done. I joined a long time ago for no other reason than someone invited me and frankly, it's difficult not to jump at the chance to talk about myself in a whole new digital venue. I've not really thought about it since, usually clicking "accept" whenever those email queries come through the in box. "Want to be connected with Bill Bromphy?" I worked with Bill on that Wheaties campaign. He was the squirmy one, if I remember.
Yesterday the Linked-In email transported me to a magical place with a whole list of people whom I know, vaguely know, and maybe don't know so well. It presents me with the opportunity to link in with ALL these people at once. I peruse the list carefully. Well, as carefully as I can, looking at a list like that. After removing some definitely-don't-knows, I think "sure, why not?"
And here is where the funny thing happens. Linked-In apparently goes through all the emails in my email in-box. It reads, apparently, every email I ever sent to or received from anyone and sends them an invite to link in. With me.
That older Japanese physicist guy I met at the New Year's Eve party a couple years ago? Invited.
The guy I went to college with who was friends with some of my friends but not with me who lives on the other side of the country and is a high school teacher and who happened to to be in a mass email chain someone included me in few years ago? Invited.
My father? Invited.
I was, well, am, shocked. But there is the funny little niggly bit. I am forced to contemplate the repercussions of the situation. The invites were gone. Out there. Sent. I can't recall them. In fact, yesterday a steady stream of jolly acceptances flowed through my in box, filling the thing to the brim.
"Find out about your new connection Stan Fuselage!"
The faux conundrum presents itself: do I risk losing all these hard won new connections, this brand new outlet for professional representation in the ever-expanding and necessary social media world? I do have a business to run, a product to sell. Should I throw all this free advertising away? Or: do I get angry at the intrusiveness? Do I cave to the embarrassment of having put myself out there, dangling myself on the limb painted in bright, pleading colors? There is a sort of weird ethical line crossed, a boundary that I think, whether I unintentionally allowed it or not, Linked-In has subverted.
In the end, the answer presents itself as it always does. And comes, as often as it always has through the voice of my father. In an email to my brothers and I, my father can hardly hold back his excitement for the new relational possibilities provided by this somewhat mysterious and magical site I've invited him to:
"It looks like Todd has a new way for us to stay in touch, pass pictures, etc. I signed up this AM. If and when you do let me know and I'll put you on my list. Todd, could you fill us in on what LinkedIn can do for us?
Talk to ya.
Needless to say, I deleted my Linked-In account.
Labels: My Own Private Instagram