Alice Coyle: Anti-social networking

Alice Coyle

I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.

I stumbled upon StumbleUpon and several other social networking sites recently after clicking the “share this” feature on one of our Web sites. 

In an earnest effort to get some of our great stories “out there” and boost online traffic, I found myself registering with four or five of these sites, coming up with user names and passwords (must be at least 12 digits in alphanumerical format) that I’ll never remember should I need to ever access the sites again.

I’m now LinkedIn – my network swelled to an impressive 6 within the first two days – and receiving invitations to connect with both current and past work colleagues. Of all the sites for which I’ve registered, I have been most active on this professional networking site. And when I say active, I mean I’ve answered a few e-mails, accepted some invitations and left one former colleague hanging – that must be a greater snub than declining his invitation, right? My profile is 60 percent complete; I have no idea what needs to be done to hit 100, and I can’t say I’ve dedicated myself to reaching it.

StumbleUpon is trying desperately to get my attention, and get me to do something other than set up the password I’ve already forgotten. I’ve received at least three e-mails urging me to “get to know StumbleUpon” or check out “recommended sites from StumbleUpon or “Find people you know on StumbleUpon.”

Likewise, LinkedIn has offered me three easy steps to get the most out of its site. 

Newsvine cheekily chastised me by e-mail for improperly using or sharing information through its site – I’d feel ashamed if I knew what I did wrong.

And there are countless other social networking sites out there; some sound appealing like Delicious, others less so -- Fark, for example. But I’ve already bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve entered into these social networking relationships lightly and have now found myself unwilling to commit.

I can’t face Facebook, despite badgering from a dear childhood friend who recently chided me in an e-mail for failing to sign up and reconnect with people I haven’t spoken with or seen in more than 20 years. 

“Everyone from the old neighborhood is on Facebook, except you,” she exaggerates, and then begins to rattle off names from another century, another lifetime, and I start to remember why I haven’t spoken with or seen these people in more than 20 years. Some may have been acquaintances way back when, but I certainly have no inclination to “friend” them now.