Today I closed my LinkedIn account. It's something I've thought about doing for months, if not years, but couldn't bring myself to do because of this nagging hope that it would someday become useful to me. I think the best way to explain why I got rid of it is to start with why I joined in the first place...
I love social technology. It's the reason that I can find a friend to go out with that's near me and the best place to meet them as rated by thousands of other people within minutes. I'm always interested in the next big thing in social tech because I love being efficient and staying connected to people.
A few years ago I took a trip to California and visited my good friend Kurtiss in San Francisco. He hipped me in to a new social service that texted multiple friends at once what was essentially a Facebook status update. Seemed cool, but only if your friends were on it, and basically no one east of California or outside New York subscribed (at the time I lived in Ohio). I signed up for the service anyways because Kurtiss was on it, so I would get his updates, but also because he told me that it was growing and likely to be huge. Eventually, the service did get huge and now you all know it as Twitter. (check out Kurtiss at www.twitter.com/kurtiss)
A few years before that, I was one of the first non-college students to get a Facebook account. I had a girlfriend at the time who was in college and hence privileged enough to have an account, so I had a front row seat to everything I wished MySpace was. I couldn't wait to get on Facebook, and once I was on I couldn't wait for everyone else to get over themselves and get on it. These days it's kinda strange to find someone who isn't on Facebook.
All this is to say that I am very glad to be an early adopter of a social service in hopes that it will go somewhere useful eventually. And now we come to LinkedIn...
In 2008 I had 2 different people request a connection with me on LinkedIn, so I researched it a little and it seemed like it could be useful to me professionally. At the time, Facebook wasn't great at being a tool for professional promotion. In fact, it was still seen in a very unprofessional light. So I signed up and immediately was burned by the service. There was a function where you could input your Gmail address and password and supposedly send some of your contacts invites to LinkedIn. I meant to send around 5, and instead LinkedIn sent an invite to everyone in my address book. SHADY. That meant that every member of my church in Ohio that had an email address got an invite. That meant I got tons of confused 40+ year olds asking me what LinkedIn was and why they should join. I had to explain to all of them what it was and that I didn't mean to send them an invite. This went on for months after the incident because LinkedIn kept hounding my contacts with further emails that looked like they were from me. And for months I had to apologize to annoyed people asking why I kept inviting them to join LinkedIn. It was nothing short of infuriating. Granted, this was a bit of a rookie mistake on my part, but it was absolutely intentionally deceptive and unethical on LinkedIn's part. I should have just cancelled the account then and there, but I gave it another chance because I'll take some techno-lumps if the result is being a part of great social technology in the long run.
There are other reasons why I closed the account. I think it's not very user friendly. I think it is feature lacking. I can promote myself on the internet in better ways through Facebook, Craigslist, Monster, Twitter, or my own website. But, today I finally came to the most important conclusion:
I can report that in 3 years I have never, ever gained anything from using LinkedIn. Ever. It has been a giant waste of time.
P.S. I have been itching for a good reason to close my MySpace account. It's utterly useless to me right now. It only lives on for 2 reasons. Nostalgia and a tiny glimmer of hope that MySpace will turn around and become relevant again in any way through some innovation. That glimmer is very quickly fading.