Culture

LinkedIn is Really, Really Creepy

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Is it just me or are there others out there who feel like LinkedIn is really, really creepy? This week, after weeks of ignoring me, the social networking site sent me four consecutive emails: One from someone who wanted to connect with me, one suggestion of someone LinkedIn thinks I might like to connect with, a reminder that someone in my network was celebrating the first anniversary of his job (is LinkedIn sending people I know weird emails like this about me?) and a list of jobs that might be of interest to me. I’m puzzled by the sudden attention and of course, as always, I took the bait and end up on the LinkedIn site.

Once there, my first question is alway: Who are these people? I’m connected to 110 people, half of whom I do not know. I’m immediately taken back to that shameful night when, after my Ambien had begun to take effect but before I fell asleep I discovered an email from LinkedIn in my inbox asking me if I wanted to invite someone to link to me. Before I realized what was happening I fell into their trap and with one little tap on my phone I allowed LinkedIn to send an email to every blessed person in my address book inviting them to connect to me (if you were a victim of my middle-of-the-night Ambien-fueled spam, I am profoundly sorry!). (Note to self:  Never, ever, ever reach for social media after you’ve taken an Ambien.)

Once I get past trying to figure out who all my connections are I’m immediately faced with this frightening pronouncement:

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I have a love/hate relationship with knowing who creeped on my profile. On the one hand, I’m insanely curious and can’t resist knowing (in this case, my profile was viewed by an anonymous creeper, “Someone at Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law,” and a friend from my college days. I don’t know anyone at Ohio Northern University so I’m left to wonder (and worry!) about why a possible lawyer is checking out my profile. I’m also faced with the realization that I show up in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section of other people. Look, I’m just going to say it… I prefer to spy on people anonymously. This is way too much transparency for my comfort and so I’m mortified at the thought of viewing anyone’s profile under these circumstances.

And then, of course, LinkedIn tempts me by telling me I have shown up in “search results” — and they’ll tell me all about it (for a small monthly fee). Someone’s searching for me? Fourteen people have searched for me? What on earth are they looking for? So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but it’s just sitting there — taunting me, week after week. Maddening.

Every time I visit LinkedIn I’m unnerved and feel more than a little violated. Not enough, of course, to delete my profile and walk away, so I mostly just avoid thinking too much about it — usually I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. I only drop by when an email arrives in my inbox tempting me … teasing me about amazing secrets that could be revealed to me if I would only click on that magic blue link (and hand over my credit card number).