There are some experiences so intense, that it can take a matter of weeks – even months – to fully comprehend what has happened.
Our minds, deeply scarred by the combination of rushing adrenalin, wide-eyed fear and sheer panic, shelve the event until such time that we’re mentally prepared to process it. The subconscious comes to our protection; shielding us from our own feelings.
And so it was the day I decided to join LinkedIn.
It has taken almost a month for me to come to terms with the utter devastation caused by my naive venture into the world of professional social networking. I tell my story today in the hope that others will be better prepared before going down the unforgiving path of becoming ‘linked’…
For the new players, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and boasts some 300 million users worldwide. It’s basically an online destination for three types of people:
- People who share motivational quotes about war from dead global political leaders and think they apply to their day job in accounting or PR; and
- People who like to write smugly about themselves in the third person; and
- Anyone looking for a new job.
I had resisted joining for several years (not because Jamila doesn’t enjoy writing in the third person because she does, but) because I wasn’t job hunting and so didn’t really see the need. I was also mightily annoyed by the incessant and unprovoked emails from people I had never met, urging me to connect with them. LinkedIn was peer pressuring me to join their club and I was going to resist that particular Coke bottle bong for as long as I could, godammit.
But then I discovered that there is a fourth type of individual who uses LinkedIn: The employer.
The business I work for is growing fairly rapidly and our CEO had been telling me for some time that I needed to start using our fancy recruiting tool on LinkedIn.
So, sitting around the living room with my housemates that very evening (waiting for Game of Thrones to start) I opened my laptop and selected the ‘join’ button.
Within minutes I had entered my name, my age, uploaded a photo and road-tested various capitalised and not capitalised versions of my job title in an attempt to make it appear Maximum Level Fancy.
Next, I needed some friends to connect with and helpfully, LinkedIn already knew who my friends were. It displayed half a dozen or so of my Mamamia colleagues, each smiling happily at me from tiny little Instagram-shaped boxes on the page.
Why not? I thought. I know all those people. Click.
Then I got a second prompt, asking if I wanted to import some more contacts from my email account; again displaying a handful of people I interact with online pretty much every day. Click. Where did I go to school? Australian National University. Click. Would I like to join any of these suggested groups? Not right now thanks, is there a skip button? That looks like it. Click.
By now I was thinking “I am actually pretty excellent at this whole LinkedIn caper”, so I boldly continued filling in tidbits of information for a good 20 minutes. I did so, blissfully unaware of the total social catastrophe I was causing.
“Hey Jam,” says my housemate Josh, messing around on his computer with half an eye on an epic Game of Thrones battle scene. “Yes I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.” He laughs.
“I too would like to connect with you Jamila,” says Josh’s girlfriend Jess. “Although, perhaps I didn’t need the twelve other updates about which primary school you went to.”
It turns out I haven’t turned off the option to send updates to all of my ‘network’ every time I update the page.
And I’ve saved a good 20 updates tonight. Shit.
I start clicking around desperately looking for instructions on how to deactivate the function.
I do however discover that, thanks to one of those new-fangled prompt things, I have accidentally selected a diploma from the Australian National Beauty School as my key qualification.
Anyone who has ever seen me with make-up on knows this is not even remotely true.
My anxious search for an ‘edit’ or ‘undo’ button continues. But oh no, on LinkedIn things are not easily changed. When you say you did something on LinkedIn, you did it FOREVER. What has been done cannot be undone. There is no ‘back’, there is no ‘delete’, there is no little cross I can hover my mouse over to get rid of the error.
Desperation growing, I click on a little picture of an email, so I can let LinkedIn know about my emergency and quickly have it resolved. But actually? This is not an ’email the creators’ function, this is my own LinkedIn message box… and I have 173 messages.
173 messages, after joining roughly 30 minutes prior. How is this even possible?
Turns out that in my hasty ‘skipping’ of the suggested interest groups, I may actually have joined a bunch. One of the organisations I have joined is an association for people who share my first name, Jamila. My message box now contains 15 or so notes from other Jamilas around the world, including two who are quite angrily insisting I have spelled my own name wrong (I haven’t).
Shit. Shit. Shit.
My LinkedIn inbox starts expanding, fast. Like, really fast. And somehow it is also sending email alerts to my actual inbox, so I am now becoming panicked across multiple technology platforms.
How have all these random people found me? Not all of them are name-twins, either. A bunch of them seem to think they know me and are addressing their messages in a far more familiar tone than my mother normally uses.
It turns out I have unwittingly sent invitations to ‘link’, not just to my proper email address book contacts but to anyone I have ever had email contact with.
This includes thousands of writers who have submitted work to Mamamia, my excessively polite dentist, several people I do not particularly like, the removalists who broke my bookcase when I moved house last year and my ex-boyfriend’s parents.
I’ll just never go back there, I think to myself. I will never use the internet or read my emails again. This means going into work tomorrow and resigning; then finding a new technology-less job. It will require me to become Amish in order to have continued social interaction with others like-minded technology deniers. Oh, and possibly I will need to enter witness protection and hide away from all my ‘professional contacts’ who think I am an Evil Spamming Beautician Who Cannot Spell Her Own Name.
It is the only way. The only way…..
Any social media disasters like to share?