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Jewish Journal

Linked Out

by Amy Klein

October 4, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Today I received the 50th e-mail from someone I vaguely know, someone who isn't spam, but is spam of a different sort. "You are invited to join LinkedIn."

LinkedIn.com, for those not in the know, is the social interface community Web site or whatever you call it for job hunters. Or so it was explained to me by one of the people I'd blasted for inviting me to one of these blasted things. "You have to be on Linked In, it's the best way to promote yourself!" he said.

Do you remember when anyone with their own personal Web page was either a narcissist, a lunatic or a geek you would never give your e-mail to? OK, this was back in 1997 or so, when everyone was just starting to get e-mail, but still. Having your own Web page was a big scarlet L. Lo-ser.

Today, if you're in the writing industry -- or any industry where you want to be known, which seems to be every industry -- you're supposed to promote yourself by at least having a Web page, if not a blog. (In what I can't decide was either a compliment or an insult, a former editor told me, "Amy, you were born to blog.") But for some reason, I don't feel like it.

I never built a page on MySpace. In fact, for a while I thought that anyone older than 30 who had a page there was a pedophile, or at least had Peter Pan syndrome. But there was the promotional aspect, and so I was considering relenting, except by then, all the kids -- and adults -- were moving over to Facebook. Originally designed for college networks, Facebook recently opened itself up to everyone. And everyone, it seems, is on it.

A guy friend here in Los Angeles told me about what my sister in New York is up to. My good friend in Israel wants to fix me up with a friend of hers here -- via Facebook.

"You're not on it?!" my friend writes me in disbelief via regular old e-mail. "It's so much fun to see what everyone is up to!"

OK, I will admit this: I once did a MySpace search for an ex-boyfriend. It was my only one. He's got a new band. And a wife, and a kid. That, my friend, is what he's up to.

So, no, I'm not sure that I need to keep track of everyone from my past.

Frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping up with everyone in my present life. Or should I say lives, plural. My friends from Israel. My friends from New York. My friends who used to live in one of those places but now live somewhere else around the world. My friends from college. From high school. From the neighborhood. And, I think I'm forgetting some people -- oh, yes, my friends from here. Not to mention my dates -- the ones I've seen, am seeing and have yet to see.

They say that modern telecommunication makes our lives easier. And in a way, it has. Between the internet, cell phones and the combination of the two, which gives U.S. numbers to people living overseas, I can keep up with quite a number of people -- and through them, nearly anyone I might have ever known, just to hear what they're up to.

And I don't mind -- I really don't. But do I really want more friends? Especially the online kind?

Uh oh. Have I just crossed that invisible line from cool young person to aging alter-kacker? "I remember when we didn't even have the internet to do research," I heard myself telling a group of journalism students, to which I was met by a blank stare, and I might as well have been saying, "When I was your age, we walked to school. Four miles. Barefoot."

And while this might date me, I do remember life pre-Internet. About a decade ago I had founded an Internet company in Israel and was trying to explain the concept to Israeli industry leaders. (Suffice to say that it wasn't an easy task trying to explain something new to a people who know everything.) I told people they would never have to leave the house! From shopping to research to booking travel to making friends to being part of a community, they would be able to conduct their entire lives online. It sounded far-fetched, and I wasn't even sure believed it.

Not to state the obvious, but that day has arrived. And I, for better or for worse, have arrived with it. I've got my Treo Internet/cell phone -- and am so adept at text messaging that my thumb has arthritis -- my AOL IM, my Skype account, my work e-mail, my personal e-mail, my grad school e-mail and my hotmail account, which receives all promotional, travel and dating e-mails.

Yes, I date on the Internet, sometimes, when I don't feel like hurling my face through the computer. Because, let me tell you, it takes up a lot of time. Between that, my e-mails, YouTube, eBay, CraigsList, Amazon, TMZ and sudoku (guiltiest of pleasures), entire decades of my life have gone by.

I don't think I'm a Luddite. I'm just ... tired.

So thanks for your invitation to join LinkedIn or MySpace of Facebook or whatever is the community Web Site for online communities these days. But if you want to hang out, why don't you just give me a call. Better yet, let's meet up. In person. Face to face.

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