DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

El Reg reruns one of Dabbsy's greatest hits


Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is away. This column is a repeat publication from back in 2014. Enjoy!

Norbert Spankmonkey has invited you to connect. Oh dear, not another one of these mystery invitations. Who the heck is Norbert Spankmonkey?

Did we exchange emails perhaps, or cross swords recently on a forum? Could I have met him at that conference earlier in the week, the one at the casino that ended with free drinks? I recall that I was on particularly good form that afternoon, which of course means I was probably very sweaty and shouty, slurring my jokes as I swirled my double JDs and leered into my conference colleagues’ faces as they looked on with horror.

A quick search of my recent email comes up with a blank. OK, let’s sign in to LinkedIn and see what Mr Spankmonkey has to say for himself.

I would like to add you to my professional network. - Norbert

Nope, I still have no idea who he is. Clearly he doesn’t seem very keen on informing me, either. No worries, I’ll just click Delete. Bye bye, Nobby.

I am not normally so dismissive but these robotic invitations and requests have grown apace in recent months that I no longer have time to respond with my customary response:

Hello Norbert/Justin/Ranjit/etc. Thank you for inviting me to connect and join your professional network. Please excuse my poor memory for names but who the fuck are you? - Alistair

The swarm of invitations from people I most definitely have never met nor spoken to nor emailed nor anything increases towards the end of every week. My assumption is that unhinged desk jockeys around the world get bored from Thursday onwards and spend their time inviting every Tom, Dick and Dabbsy to be their imaginary friends.

When I make the effort to challenge them, these people invariably admit we are complete strangers and offer one of the following transparent excuses:

Excuse 1: The Absurd

I am a student in IT/media/fruit-juggling and want to learn from experts like yourself.

Excuse 2: The Salesman

Like you, I also work in IT/media/fruit-juggling and wish to keep you abreast of the latest publishing developments in the technology of balancing bananas.

Excuse 3: The Con-Man

We're looking for trusted partners on some projects at the moment which might be of interest for you or someone you know.

Excuse 4: The Stalker

I read your article in The Register and feel we have a lot in common. Can we be friends? Please?

I even had one last week from someone who eventually claimed that he had been trying to connect with someone with a similar name to mine. Nice try, but ‘John Smith’ I ain’t.

My views on LinkedIn have been expressed in this column before: it’s a handy online CV of sorts (albeit one that tends to make you look overblown and yet a teensy bit desperate), but in my case has never once gained me any work or useful contacts. When I ask friends and colleagues, they tell me “Sure, I’ve had some jobs through LinkedIn”, before knitting their brows, looking at the ceiling and adding vaguely, “I think it was a few years ago…”

Well, bully for you. All I get is American college students begging me for work placements, Indian businessmen hoping to sell me things I don’t want, dodgy English Arthur Daleys trying to relieve me of my savings and nutters with an unhealthy fixation for Friday-afternoon El Reg columnists.

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