Curmudgeon's Latest Theory on Social Networking

linkedin logoYounger Daughter is scheduled to graduate from college in the Spring. She has begun to think, finally, about what she might do after she leaves school. In other words, she's begun to look for work.

I'm useless as a source of advice or practical assistance: My own experiences in interviewing have been awful -- and have never led to an actual job offer. I've been self-employed, now, for 13 years. And I still hate my boss.

So I'm doing more listening than talking when Younger Daughter tells me of her job search strategy. One thing she said her school development office was quite keen on is LinkedIn. I've written about that, too (I've never let my ignorance of a subject keep me from forming definite opinions about it) but I'd never accepted anyone's invitation to join. However, when Younger Daughter said she'd joined and asked me to join I really had no choice, did I? After several weeks, I'm connected (at last count) to six people. None of them appears to be connected to Kevin Bacon. None of my connections have offered me a job. Or a book contract. Younger Daughter is still looking for work, too.

But this experience has helped me crystallize my thinking about the various social networks. Here's my current working hypothesis:

LinkedIn is a combination of job board and trophy case. Those who are looking for work are desperately trying to make connections. Those who are already successful use LinkedIn to showcase all their many achievements. Either way, there is no humility on LinkedIn.

Facebook is an office Christmas party that runs all day, every day, 24/7. Holiday parties are a time when everyone gets together to retell the old, familiar stories, like when the guy who used to sit three cubicles over got sloppy drunk and groped the gorgeous new accountant. And how the accountant turned out to have a husband who was twitter logoas muscular as she was gorgeous. Everyone will laugh, nervously, and hope they won't become the object of next year's holiday party story. In other words, holiday parties are fraught with peril. So is Facebook. On Facebook you have to act like you're having a good time -- even though your boss might sneak up behind you at any moment. And Facebook is even more dangerous than a never-ending office holiday party in this sense: Your friends and neighbors aren't at the office party; they wouldn't be invited. On Facebook, though, your real-life friends or family can embarrass you (and fatally damage your career prospects) in front of your boss at any moment. Such fun!

Twitter is just a handy means for athletes and actors to get into trouble. Journalists sometimes get into trouble by prematurely Tweeting something entirely unfounded, but it's athletes and actors who get caught in public with the wrong companion or who tweet out something incredibly stupid. (See, for example, the collected works of Rashard Mendenhall.) If there is a practical use for Twitter (beyond what could be accomplished just as well in a group email at least), I've yet to figure it out.

Curmudgeon is a self-described dinosaur -- an Ozzie and Harriet person living in an Ozzy and Sharon world. And sometimes it confuses the heck out of him. He writes a very amusing blog at Second Effort.

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