Some time back, some colleagues convinced me to sign up with LinkedIn, one of the (then) new buzz-wares making the rounds of the business networking crowd.
I was vulnerable, having just added my face to the vast Book in cyberspace, and doing some tentative tinkering with Twitter.
If they had told me that it was corporately cool to join Digital Data Group Hug, and participate in computerized croonings of Kumbaya at noon every day, I probably would have gone for that, too.
So LinkedIn I became. As far as I could tell, my life did not take on new meaning.
But I did begin to get messages from utter strangers who want to be LinkedIn with me. Sorry, Spanky, I don’t Link with just anyone.
Who are these people, and why do they want me on their lists? What do they do with these lists, anyway? Trade ’em like playing cards? Compare to see who’s got the biggest?
Will masked militants come to my door one night because I appeared on someone’s list?
And now that I’ve climbed aboard, how do I get off?
(I sometimes ask myself that about life in general.)
Even more confounding is the email advisory that someone on LinkedIn has “endorsed” me. It smacks of something faintly fanatical. You belong. You believe. You are endorsed.
I’m still waiting for my secret decoder ring.
I didn’t ask for endorsement from anyone. I didn’t even ask to be understood. That would actually be asking too much.
But here I am, all endorsed and networked and everything.
And then comes the request for reciprocal recommendation, sometimes from other people I don’t know. How could I possibly endorse them? They could be nefarious villains plotting to take over the world … or politicians, even!
I mean, how do I know what dark secrets they’ve been hiding in their sock drawer of life?
What if I gave my official stamp of approval, and they turn up at a friend’s door really early on a Saturday morning, hawking cheap plastic kitchenware and dropping my name as though I encourage what they’re doing?
For that matter, how do I know how well they do the jobs they claim to do?
It looks as though back in high school, some of them excelled at lifting large weights over their heads.
Now they’re supposed to be consummate professionals at designing high-tech marketing schemes for selling stuff. What if they’re fibbing?
And if I did indeed recommend their talents without knowing whether they could produce a polite burp, let alone a complex business plan, wouldn’t I be fibbing?
I mean, just because someone suddenly emerges in my email, all networked up, should I be out there as part of their personal cheerleading squad?
Digital relationships can be so superficial.
Nevertheless, I offer my regards to all my cyberspace “buddies.” Not in a LinkedIn sense, though … I’m not really that kind of guy … but in a holiday greetings, goodwill to all and peace on Earth sort of way.
And to my friends and family, and of course, you dear reader, a heartfelt Merry Christmas.