A few weeks ago, I tried to connect with a woman on LinkedIn. Nothing good comes from being online, but I’m trying to meet new people. She is an accomplished leader who works for a successful venture capital firm. We have many friends in common, and her name has popped up in recent conversations.
LinkedIn seems to know this, too, because it suggested that we connect. So I did what the internet told me to do: I clicked a button and went back to my normal life. I hoped she would say yes. I wanted to follow up with a phone call.
A day later, this woman responded back to my request with a LinkedIn message telling me that she uses LinkedIn to connect with people she already knows IRL. She suggested that we use email to chat. Then she denied my request to connect.
It’s nice that she responded, but it’s also amazing how people create arbitrary rules for technology platforms and expect others to play along. This educated, talented woman took the time to decline my request, write back via LinkedIn, and instruct me to use email in the future without any consideration as to how I might prefer to connect.
What if I only use email for my personal friends and people I know IRL? What if LinkedIn is my go-to platform for enterprise communication? And is this what happens in 2016? Are we doomed by the biases and preferences we bring to technology? If we only communicate on rigid terms, will we ever communicate at all?
These questions are important to me.
Then I went on Facebook and saw a woman in my network who announced that she just subscribed to Snapchat and was having trouble figuring it out. The comments are something else. Here’s a screenshot.
It’s a beautiful, elegant, post-modern digital portrait of poor communication run amok.
When you’re on Facebook complaining about Snapchat and almost nobody is being helpful, you should probably put down your mobile device and take a walk outside. Sit this one out. Be excited for the next leap in technology.
So here’s what I know: I’m on my phone reading all this shit and wondering about the impact on communications and interpersonal relationships. And I’m using one platform to watch people talk about another platform while being monitored by multiple websites that listen to me through my mobile device, track my activity, sell my information, and tell me that I matter because I’m connected.
Connected to what, exactly?
What a phenomenal waste of my time and my life. And what a waste of yours, too.
That’s why I’m taking my own advice, sitting out these minor social media iterations, and waiting for the next big thing that isn’t wrapped up in consumerism and behavioral psychology.
And I’m going outside for more walks.
You should, too.