Vancouver, BC (September 26, 2019) — Way back in 2006, a former professional student of mine from a consulting firm sent a LinkedIn invite to me. Back then MySpace was the king of social media, it wasn’t called that then, it was more like community portal. MySpace was an exciting place to connect with all sorts of people, a great upgrade from the bulletin boards and internet-relay chat a decade prior.
I read his first invite dated February 24, 2006, which came with an explanation on what LinkedIn is all about. I remember who he was, since he left a pretty good impression in his class. He already has my e-mail and other contact information through the consulting firm, so I didn’t think it was necessary to add another one. I was already knee-deep with MySpace, being naive and everything, so the site only felt redundant. He sent another follow-up four weeks later, but I didn’t join for the same reasons. I didn’t have any issues with the guy, I simply didn’t find the site necessary.
MySpace was sold and users lost all their data. That was followed by Excite boards and Yahoo Groups losing popularity. Fast forward to the new millennium, social media became a thing and Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms came into existence, some went away, and almost all of them exploited people’s privacy and data.
Every now and then I get e-mails from LinkedIn asking me to sign-up. For some reason it’s able to guess some of my co-workers even though I didn’t have an account there. I kept unsubscribing from the alerts, but that doesn’t seem to have any effect.
After a couple of years of full-time “soul searching,” among other life’s pursuits, I’ve rekindled the drive to reconnect. I kept all my contact information from past co-workers and friends, so I could always reach out on my own accord if I wanted to. I’m not the type of person who actively, frequently knocks at people’s door to ask them if they like me and that they should like me.
Privacy to me is very important. Having worked in the technology industry for so long, one tends to know some hard truths about these companies. I’ve abandoned Facebook many years ago — after happily deleting my content — after realizing that social media companies are not trustworthy. The service maybe “free,” but users are paying for it with their life and resources. These tech. companies didn’t get better after MySpace, on the contrary, they’ve gotten worse. They exist to manipulate and exploit and monetize users. Their “free service” is simply the carrot at the end of the stick.
As professionals, we too are sometimes curious about what our former colleagues has been up to. I know I am sometimes. But even though I have their contact information, there’s this feeling of evasiveness I get when shooting them an e-mail or text. Perhaps it’s just me. I do value their privacy and time as much as I value mine. So a casual passive update would suffice… like a web portal. LinkedIn to me is still overkill though. I do share my resume somewhere, but only to one portal aside from this one. The right job will cross paths with you if it’s meant to be. There’s no point screaming your resume on the mountain top for the world to hear. I for one found jobs I really like since I started my career in 1993 mostly by coincidence — like I just happen to be in a place where a work opportunity was posted — or by some stranger who found me for some reason.
So after thirteen years and seven months, I finally signed up on LinkedIn. Maybe I’ll reach out to him to tell him I’m there now, lol.
I won’t be using it like Facebook in the past. It’s nothing more than a placeholder, an anchor, for colleagues to find me and lead them here. I won’t be handing my CV over to Microsoft’s subsidiary. Because once our information is on cyberspace… it’ll live there forever… for everyone to see (and with some folks, to exploit). All the information about myself I want to share will only be published on ajyvr.com, where I have complete control over how I express myself and my data. And if I decide to monetize it, it’ll benefit me not Silicon Valley.
Privacy starts with me.