I write crime fiction, about a PI called Moss Reid. Moss is fiction. He doesn’t exist. Got that? But in real life he is being haunted. By a pesky ghost called LinkedIn. Here’s how it happened…
A couple of years ago a designer friend casually suggested setting up two or three dummy social media accounts for Moss. Screenshots of the web pages could then be used on the backs of my books.
So we went ahead, set up the accounts and thought no more about it. No probs. Apart from LinkedIn of course.
I’d set up a dedicated Gmail address specially for the task, to create the profile on LinkedIn of Moss (OK, “Maurice”) Reid. The bio was deliberately sparse: it said Maurice was in Ireland, self-employed, a private investigator, in the one job since 2008, at Wilde & Reid Investigations (the name of his firm in my novels). See? Sparse.
I left the account, never touched the profile details again, set the Gmail account to automatically forward any messages to my own email account. And that was it.
Or so I thought.
Because after that the pageviews began to stack up, the “suggestions” started rolling in. And the job offers. Oh yes. Every week LinkedIn sent Maurice an email or two, telling him that top bluechip companies, banks and State agencies in Ireland were all looking “for candidates like you”.
Even Richard Branson – THE Richard Branson twat in the stupid ads on TV – sent Maurice spam. Branson was seeking Maurice’s advice. All very chatty, “Hi Maurice” this and that, but Branson was seriously wondering whether my fictional detective would sit on a judging panel for some entrepreneur competition. I resisted the temptation for Maurice to take up his new billionaire friend’s intriguing offer.
LinkedIn kept prodding Maurice to add to his bare-bones profile.
Why not join the Professional Private investigators group on LinkedIn, it asked Maurice, “to meet like-minded professionals”? Why not “Add Firearms as a skill on your profile” too? Because private investigators in Ireland have firearms, surely? And while we’re at it, why not let LinkedIn see your email contacts? Ah go on, just a quick peek?
LinkedIn kept making suggestions to my fictional character. LinkedIn suggests connections to other LinkedIn members, though you’d wonder how the hell it knows these possible linkages, especially when the only information that Maurice has ever knowingly given LinkedIn were (a) his bare-bones profile and (b) a one-off Gmail address that isn’t used for anything else.
Facebook is bad enough, Google has its dark side, Twitter its trolls and superficialities, but I detest LinkedIn. I have a deep suspicion that Linkedin is not a set of offices run by real people at all, but a giant evil mutant robot octopus buried deep in a mountain lair in Nevada. On acid.
Even my fictional detective finds LinkedIn “creepy”. As Moss says to himself in the novel Black Marigolds:
Facebook? I must be the wrong generation; the only reason my mostly blank page with its empty timeline is still on Facebook is that I can’t delete the account. It’s almost as bad as LinkedIn (though not half as creepy).
But I had to laugh yesterday afternoon after this brilliant tweet by writer Liz Nugent. And she really has updated her LinkedIn profile to “CEO of LinkedIn Haters”. Now how cool is that?
I’ve just updated my profile on LinkedIn so that I am now CEO of LinkedIn Haters PLC. Be sure to congratulate me on my new job.
— Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) April 19, 2016