Do you know Iain Hunneybell?
What’s he like? I picture a middle-aged white man, vaguely competent at project management, easily able to slot into a grand-a-day role conjured out of nowhere by an HR department told to squeeze funds like pips from a lemon. When a project needs managing, Iain’s the man to do it, not least because of his proven track record of forcing through that completely unnecessary second I.
He could surprise me. He could be skipper of his local volunteer lifeboat having retired from the fire service after 30 years’ solid graft at the hose. Maybe he’s a martial arts teacher or a budding chef, a theatre critic or someone who designs new shapes for tea bags. He could have an impressive back catalogue of movies listed on IAFD.com, many of them anal.
But it’s not likely, is it? Because if he was an extreme sports maniac, a Youtuber with five hundred thousand subscribers or a stay-at-home dad who makes his own pickled onions, I don’t think LinkedIn would be so fucking obsessed about connecting me with him.
Once a week I get an email with the subject line ‘Do you know Iain Hunneybell?’ I do not know Iain Hunneybell.
I can’t involve myself with these emails to explain to LinkedIn that I don’t know Iaiaiain Hunneybell, because the moment I do LinkedIn will know I’m not dead. When that happens, your inbox fills up with limitless emails about the fantastic opportunity of becoming the Social Media Manager at Nickelodeon and the suicide that would follow in its wake.
One way they try to phish you is with job ads. When you’re asked as a child what you want to be when you grow up, obviously astronaut and footballer will figure high on the list, along with postman for Christ knows why. Yet what we should all do at that point is consult LinkedIn because it knows us better than we know ourselves.
I’m some kind of copywriter, so I can expect an email dangling tantalising jobs such as nomadic scribe for Lonely Planet or new ale reviewer for Whitbread. If you click any of these non-existent roles you can expect the sad rejection to be delivered to your inbox by none other than Iain Hunneybell, along with countless real jobs of unspeakable tedium for companies like Accenture and SAP. The only work anyone’s actually secured via LinkedIn is, you guessed it, project fucking management. If I’m the kind of person you want managing your project, I imagine your CV packed with words like Challenger, Beagle 2 and Marchioness.
I fucking hate social media and engage only with Twitter so that a handful of people who actually like me read the drivel I put on here. Sadly, the other ghastly network I’m signed up to is LinkedIn. It was once a useful way to beg people who tangentially knew me to give me a job I didn’t want, before it became easier to drown former colleagues in beer and wait for the “I’ll see what I can do”.
I’ve never poked a penny at LinkedIn, so clearly it now wants payback. Insidiously worming its way around a wide circle of acquaintances, it uses methods unfathomable to suggest people I might possibly know who might somehow enliven my life by improving my handoff from project intake through delivery, ensuring that I’m on strategy and realising the vision. Don’t those words make you want to weep? Don’t your genitals shrivel when I say ‘high-level user needs’, ‘low-hanging fruit’ or ‘MVP’? The people it wants to inveigle into my world live these expressions with their dead-eyed profile pictures and decades of understandable self harm.
A good 95% of suggested connections are middle-aged white men working in offices. Not entirely a surprise you’d think, but on what grounds do I need to know Ciaran Ryan, an ‘Agile Coach’, Paul Brown, who has a self-proclaimed ‘deep knowledge of digital strategy’, or Normal Driskell? I just don’t see myself sharing a happy, fulfilling conversation with a man named Norman Driskell. Sorry Norman.
Then there are those people who seek me out because I’m special. The other day I had a message from one Nigel Burton, a ‘Business Development Manager’ at Chillblast, in Bournemouth no less. “Hi Chris, I thought it would be great to connect and see if Chillblast can help your business. We build bespoke computer systems needed to run high power programmes.”
Do I look like the kind of bloke who needs to run high power programmes, Nigel? It fucking says it right there look – ‘Self employed content designer and copywriter’. Words mate, not hissing control rods for heavy water reactors or automated excuse emitters for Boeing. Words like “How about you fuck off away and out of it Nigel? How about you stick you bespoke computer systems up your pipe and turn the fan all the way up to Chillblast?”
I’ve lost track of how many times it’s tried to connect me with the wife. We graft in entirely different fields and I can’t begin to imagine who it might think connects us in the world of work. This surely demonstrates the evil of such networks and the knowledge they have of us. Just think about that for a second. It wants to connect me with the wife.
I picture LinkedIn as desperate, bags under eyes, one missed connection from bankruptcy, because how does it make any money? It’s not like they can sell much advertising space given their target audience’s main outlay is staples. LinkedIn is the workers’ MySpace, but without the general air of cocaine nonchalance, and the tunes.
Or maybe I’ve misjudged it and LinkedIn is a vital tool in everyone’s life but mine. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the 21st century. On Saturday I went to the pub to find my cash useless, and a card the only route to the oceans of drink I need and deserve. It felt like a watershed moment, probably, I can’t really remember. Out of place and left behind, like Jim Davidson at the Edinburgh fringe.
When nobody wants me to write their silly shite any more, when even Nigel Chillblast has stopped taking my calls, will LinkedIn offer me one last chance for employed redemption? Do I know Iain Hunneybell? More to the point, will he want to know me? For all I know he might have been getting emails about me for weeks on end and have written something cutting and sly about me on www.ianaiainainaaainahunneybell.net.
So be it. I do not know Iain Hunneybell and I probably never will. But if we ever meet, Iain, I will value our new friendship and the 30-day trial of Oracle Imaging and Process Management that doubtless comes with it.
I can’t promise that I’ll share many articles on the importance of personas in user research or accept many invitations to conferences in the QEII Centre. But if you ever identify a gap in your project that can only realistically be filled by profanity, misanthropy and beer, well, mate, what about that LinkedIn, eh? Imagine if we’d never connected!