I have a profile on LinkedIn, although I'm not sure why. When I first read about it a few months ago I was curious and wanted to look around... and, of course, it wouldn't let me do that without creating a profile of my own. So I have a profile, but there's nothing in it -- mostly because I'm not planning to make a long-term career out of my current position or field, and partly because "networking" in general makes me break out in hives. But hey, it can't hurt, I figured. Sometimes Joel uses my login to look people up, so it's not useless. I have exactly four contacts (and two of them are bloggers). My profile is only 55% complete, whatever that means.
Today I logged in to look something up -- I honestly cannot remember what -- and I spit coffee all over my computer monitor when I saw the welcome screen. There was a list of "People You Might Know", and on that list were:
- A dude that was in a couple of my grad classes who now teaches English in Turkey. I was on his mailing list for awhile and got periodic updates about his life in Istanbul, but I haven't heard anything from him in over a year.
- Y from Joy Unexpected. I read her blog. Once, she replied to one of my comments. That's as far as our relationship goes. I doubt she would be pleased to find out that LinkedIn showed me her real last name.
- My friend's sister.
- A girl from my ex-sorority that I haven't talked to in years
- A friend of a friend -- I thought this one was an error because I didn't recognize the name at first, but when I read her job history I realized that I actually do know her. Well, sort of.
So LinkedIn is right, I do know every single one of these people. But how do THEY know this? And more importantly, is LinkedIn throwing my name out to random people that I used to get drunk with at sorority formals? WTF?
I am seriously freaked out. I want to go home, unplug my computer, and spend the rest of the afternoon making tin foil hats for my kitty cats.
I know that the internet can be a scary place; I understand that nothing on the web is really private. Heck, I don't even EXPECT things to be private -- I write about my life on a public weblog, for crying out loud. But sometimes I tend to forget just how much information is out there -- and although I have nothing to "hide", it still freaks me out. I've been contemplating taking down all the profiles that I don't ever use (MySpace, LinkedIn, etc), but I figured there was really no harm in just leaving them up -- and let's face it, I'm lazy. But now I'm thinking that maybe that would be a really good project for this weekend -- and I'll make sure to wear my tin foil hat while using the computer from now on.