Excuse me, but has LinkedIn gone feral?

You know what it’s like when the popular kid finally takes you under her wing? She introduces you to the in-crowd, helps you make connections, lets you in on all the best discussions. At last, you feel like your opinion matters and the world is full of possibilities.

Well, that’s how I felt about LinkedIn.

Shortly after I signed up, people started to ‘connect’ with me (some of them in reasonably high places). I joined interesting groups and initiated a few discussions. As a technical communicator it was a great way to befriend my audience – find out what concerned and challenged them and maybe offer some advice.

Young woman looking at her virtual friends isolated on whitePeople were viewing my profile and, like a good friend who has your back, LinkedIn told me exactly who they were. So my ego was well stroked even before the endorsements started rolling in:

“Brian endorsed you for content strategy!”

“Janine endorsed you for usability testing!”

Every morning there seemed to be a new endorsement in my Inbox or some other email from LinkedIn letting me know how much I was loved. How many people liked my comments. All the amazing companies that wanted to hire me.

Ok, so my new friend was becoming a little intense but that’s what extroverts are like, right? Besides, if I started to back away, I might lose all the great connections that I’d made. So I let the relationship continue.

Then things took a turn for the creepy.

I was following a discussion in one of my favourite groups and decided to add a comment. My comment wasn’t accepted and I got a message saying that it was “pending approval”. This had never happened before and I felt a small sting of rejection (especially since the comment never did get approved because the manager of that group wasn’t very diligent). No big deal right? Until it started happening in EVERY group when I tried to make a comment. My day in the popular sun was over. I was confused and humiliated.

But at least I wasn’t alone. In the LinkedIn Help Forum I found a full blown discussion about this very issue. Turns out that if a manager in one group blocks you (either accidentally or on purpose) your comments suddenly become second class citizens in ALL the groups you belong to. There is no way around this and LinkedIn are making no promises to fix it.

But it’s not fair. I didn’t do anything wrong! No spamming. No trying to sell stuff. No political incorrectness. Why have you forsaken me?

LinkedIn remains strangely silent on the subject.

Well at least I have my endorsements. Or do I?

On Monday, my pod buddy at work was amused that I had endorsed her for “agile methodology” since it’s not really her raison d’etre. Only thing was, I hadn’t endorsed her at all. It seemed LinkedIn (my egomaniacal friend) was putting words in my mouth. Another foray into the Help forums revealed that LinkedIn sends out fake endorsements to ‘get the ball rolling’. This is not just creepy, it’s dishonest.

When I went back to look at all my endorsements, I felt my ego deflate like a three day old balloon. Were most of them fake?

Did Neil really think I was good at “telecommunications”?

Was Katie really in awe of my “blogging” skills?

Probably not. I felt an existential crisis coming on.

So my relationship with LinkedIn has cooled. I still check in from time-to-time but I’m more guarded and less naive.

Ironically, I got an email from LinkedIn this morning saying “kathleen, we want you back”. They’d like me to renew my ‘premium membership’ but I think that ship has sailed.

I should have known better, the popular kid is always trouble. Much safer hanging with the geeks (on Google+).