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Disconnect, please

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Friday, February 01, 2008

{safe_alt_text} ROBIN DOUSSARD

IT WAS THE NOTE that said “someone at SMUD” had viewed my profile that finally did it. I don’t even know what SMUD is, but it doesn’t sound good. And now someone there is checking me out?

That’s when I knew I had to get out of this professional online network thing. It started  innocently, like these things do. A writer I know sent me an invite to join Linked In, a social network for professionals. Who can resist being asked to join a club? So I agreed, filled out the form, and I was in. Joining a group that promised to connect me to like-minded professionals sounded like just the kind of thing I needed to get up to speed on the whole networking thing and join the race my colleagues were running.

Then other invites started coming. From people I used to know, people I still know, people I have never known. I didn’t want to be rude (always a mistake), so I accepted the first few. Then as they started to roll in, I started ignoring them, a passive-aggressive way to say “no thanks.” I wasn’t interested in having a lot more e-mail to keep up with.

Then it linked me to thousands of classmates from my university. Yikes! The last thing I needed was my college-boyfriend-turned-stalker getting that information on a silver platter. (And if you already have found me, “Steve,” I now own a gun, drive an armored Hummer and my husband works for Blackwater.)

Then I’m told that Rebecca S. has just added a picture to her profile, Tom T. has added 3,987 new contacts and my network is only .001% complete. Linked In encourages me to BUILD MY NETWORK! Now I feel like a loser. Why aren’t I on the beam, here? I need to get out and invite more people to my network. I need to wash my hair, put on a little makeup, post a picture to my profile and start networking.

I started getting sweaty, exhausted by just the thought of it. It’s not that I’m unused to public scrutiny, but I find something creepy about this. Have I mentioned that the network also suggests “people you may know,” and, good god, I do know them? How do they know who I know?

Then just when I think the whole world is spying on me, I look at the “who’s viewed my profile” section and find that my profile has been viewed by eight people in the last three months. Eight people in three months. How pathetic is that? And that includes my new best friend from SMUD, and probably Steve. Of course, I’ve never sent out an invite, fearing the same rejection that I’ve heaped on the other schmoes out there sending out invites to people they barely know, like some sad, chubby 8-year-old trying to get kids to her birthday party. Sorry, wrong column.

When I finally got around to closing my account today, there was a box that asked: Please describe the problem you are having.

I wish it were that simple.


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