When Social Network Invites Are Merely Socially Awkward

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 1:34 PM EDT

I don't use Linked-In. I quickly evaluated the service a couple of years ago, but was immediately turned off by the idea of putting my contacts in the awkward position of deciding whether to opt into something (and decided that I didn't want to dilute future meaningful correspondences with these types of unnecessary exchanges that might be viewed as annoyances). To me, it's similar to sending your kid out to the neighbors' houses to sell raffle tickets ... or a boss sending their kid to the office to sell girl scout cookies. It creates that awkward obligation feeling that people are too polite to complain about.

When I'm the recipient of a Linked-In (or other "social networking") invite, I always refuse the invite, then send a quick / polite note to the requester (if I have a relationship with them) informing them that I don't use the service.

I find it very presumptuous when someone that I barely know at all sends me a Linked-In invite. I don't bother to inform those folks that I don't use the service, I just ignore it (thanks for the spam).

To me, a relationship is built on history and long-term trust. The fact that you "know" someone else that I know -- what do I care?

And I'm certainly not interested to enable people to similarly spam a bunch of other people that are part of my "network." A friend of mine who has used Linked-In extensively tells me of common situations where someone that he barely knows (who he's directly connected to) asks for a recommendation to someone else who's twice removed (but connected via other relationships). At a certain point, you have to question the logic of how these are real "relationships."

I'm in the white pages with 750,000 other residents ... I guess you could say we're all part of a "social network" too.