My students like to tease me that I carry a computer in my head. I know most people think librarians only deal with books but for many of us, we do have to carry a computer in our head. At least I do...so much of my job is about computers and technology and teaching those things to others. [Remember librarianship is about information, not just books! :)] And really, the world we live in is changing. Technology is changing the way we communicate, do work, etc.
And, I like to think of myself as fairly tech-savvy and fairly socially networked. A computer networking class in grad school helped me so much with feeling more comfortable with technology. But sometimes [I hate to admit it] even I get a bit tripped up with technology. Which, I guess gives me a new found empathy for many of my students.
As I've started to accept the reality that I will indeed be leaving Uganda in a couple months, I've started updating my resume, contacting potential references, etc. I've also been trying to update my LinkedIn account. To be honest, this is one social networking site I haven't quite gotten the hang of or quite figured out. But I decided since I am going to be on the job market again soon, it might be a good thing to have and keep updated. You never know, right? And everyone always says to Google your name and see what potential employers are seeing. With other Rachel Wightman's out there I figured I better make sure potential employers can find the real me.
Anyway, several weeks ago I was getting ready for a trip out of town. But for whatever reason instead of packing decided to poke around on my computer. [Oh, wait, I know why...because I hate packing! :)] And I ended up on LinkedIn. I made a few tweaks and thought that was that.The next day I left for my trip. And I rarely move [read: travel] with my computer here in Uganda...choosing, instead, to enjoy some time away from the overly connected, online world.
A few days later I came back and after settling in, I checked my email. Since I didn't take my computer I expected a lot of emails. And while there were a number of expected emails there were also loads of emails from LinkedIn with subjects: 'Re: Invitation to connect on LinkedIn' and 'Learn about ____, your new connection'.
And, I admit...I panicked. I assumed I was hacked somewhere.
I started reading through the emails and checked my LinkedIn account trying to decide if I was hacked and figure out what happened. It was so weird, actually, seeing how many responses I had to 'connect with me on LinkedIn' emails I didn't even know I sent. And it was embarrassing...after checking my LinkedIn I realized it had sent invitations to everyone in my contacts in my Gmail. And good old Gmail remembers every. single. person. whom you have ever emailed. So I unknowingly sent LinkedIn invites to everyone, including people I haven't spoken to in years, people I sent job applications to years ago, and the few students that have my email address.
And then the students started telling me they had 'gotten an email' from me asking about something called LinkedIn. And asked, what was the email about? And, seriously. How do you explain LinkedIn? To people who are just learning to use emails and computers? It's like trying to explain statuses, walls, and pokes.
Social networking is great...it really is. It allows us to communicate in new ways. But sometimes I think it is such a hassle. It has a language all its own that takes a lot of patience to explain. Social networking has taken over my days as a librarian in ways I never expected. And when my days are filled with simply trying to explain what a website is and whether or not you can save it to a flash drive for later, trying to explain different types of websites gets even more interesting. And when, for some reason, your LinkedIn account sends invites to 400 people and you have to field questions from many of them, you start to wonder is 'connecting' with people really worth it?
Yes, I want to be well networked when I start looking for a job again. But I also want to be smart about it. And I don't like sneaky, hidden check boxes that make one of my social networking sites talk to another one without me realizing it. And then make my job more frustrating trying to explain all these crazy sites American make up to make them more 'connected to community'.
Sorry. I guess this is a bit of a rant. Seriously, though, there's got to be something said for good, old-fashioned relationships that are not about invitations, status updates, liking and tweeting. Right?
[And, oh yeah, you can leave a comment here on this social networking site to let me know what you think...so, you know, we can feel more connected. ;)]