And more begat more

Join up! They say. It’s fun, it’s cool, you can add friends, link to hundreds of people you don’t really know. And on and on. Whether it’s from the service itself, or from people using the service, the friendly, fun, “2.0” emails continue to flood my inbox.

Ignoring most I eventually pick one to try, and then it’s private messages, friend requests and a myriad of other nudges, pokes, tweaks and annoyances that . This is not the age of social interaction, nor the time of ‘community on the web’, this is the sneaky school bully, tripping you up as you walk past, leaving notes stuck to your back. Of course he never gets caught, he’s far to sly for that, but he’s always there needling away.

And so it is with some of the current crop of social or “Web 2.0” services. They are deplorably sneaky, sucking you in, enticing you with the promise of… well, what exactly? Are they preying on our insecurities, and offering pseudo-popularity that is based on the quantity of people you have in your list of “friends”. Or are we to believe that use of such everyday terms is pure chance? In saying that, it’s probably pure laziness that led to that decision, after all, what IS the collective term for “a group of people I know online” Webuddies, perhaps?

Presuming you fall for their charms (don’t feel bad, I did too), you’ll soon be peppered with even MORE spam (bacn?) from all those other poor saps that are desperate to be popular, desperate to be cool and hip and ahead of the curve (don’t feel bad, I do too). Of course there is no chance of any web service making you cool, no, not even blogging. I can say this safe in the knowledge that, despite several rather desperate attempts at such, I have resolutely failed to be cool at any point in my existence and have since given up any aspirations in that direction (don’t feel bad, I really don’t give a stuff, honest).

And here’s the thing. Once you have signed up to one of these ‘social services’, the more people you add, the more stuff you have to cope with, the more stuff you have to accept, delete and ignore. And on and on it goes, like some weird but friendly marshmallow that slowly engulfs you, lulling you with soft, sweet, deliciousness until you realise, a moment too late, that you are about to suffocate.

Of course such websites.. sorry “services”, love it. The more users they can attract, the higher their profit, the more users, the more interactions, the more invites, the more users, the higher the profits. And on and on. Some people have said this is the viral nature of the web, to which I ponder, what’s the cure? Where is the antidote? At what point does it stop?

When I opt out of course.

I ditched Facebook a few weeks ago, I don’t pownce on anything, and have no desire to be in bebo. My space is mine alone, and I’ll stumble upon where I like.

I will continue to use LinkedIn for the purpose of having a professional directory (links), and Twitter remains an amusing diversion into which I dip when a micro-distraction is required, but I know that that too, over time, will fade.

For me, sites like LinkedIn serve a purpose. The deluge of other sites seem to be useful but ultimately, are they? What do they do for you? And by that I mean what service do they REALLY provide, what value do they hold in your online life?

Don’t feel bad if you’ve sent me an invite that has been ignored, if you’ve tried to interact with me on any of the sites mentioned above, and more. This isn’t a dig at anyone just a reaction on my part, or more a realisation that, from here on, I’ll go looking for solutions to my problems, rather than reacting to the buzz.