Talking about LinkedIn with my parents

Sitting down for dinner with my parents this evening was a fun revelation. My parents are incredibly intelligent and professionally savvy, so I love talking to them about work-related stuff as much as anything else. So while they always politely listen to me talk about my job, today I got to hear a little of their perspective of what I do.

Somehow, accidentally, we talked about LinkedIn. Mainly I asked questions and they vented. It was mostly funny, a little scary. Without even trying my Boomer folks made me feel super duper Millennial.

For background, they both joined at some point over the last year or two but have never signed in probably more than once. Paraphrasing a bit:

Mom: I get emails saying that this person or that person wants to connect and I haven’t even heard from them or worked with them in 20 years!
Dad: Or they’ll ask for a connection or a recommendation…
[[general aggravated hemming and hawing at this point, added discussion that you don’t have to recommend everyone that requests it on LinkedIn, but because my parents are polite they feel like they should help people out but recs are a lot of work, hence LinkedIn is a pain and who needs that headache, et cetera]]

Of course, I’m listening to this laughing and also a bit amazed. I ask them if they realize that the whole point of social networking is that you be somewhat social and you network? Just as you wouldn’t really go to a networking event and just stand in in a corner… unless you were just there for free food and drinks… though this metaphor falls apart a bit when you try to take this online. Anyway.

We’re all laughing about this a bit and then I realize: Oh man. When I talk about social networks to some of my coworkers who are not into this stuff—me blathering on about the business value and various social media buzzword bingo-type things—are my parents’ reactions the kinds of thoughts going through their head? Is this what I’m up against?

—Not just the “this is really dumb” reaction we all had/still have(?) to Twitter, but also the “why the heck are these random people bothering me?” reaction. Or the “what the heck is the point of connecting to these people I don’t really talk to (or never liked that much, maybe)?”

Yeah, probably.

I should note that my folks are also both retired so I imagine they don’t have as much incentive to connect to former professional contacts as they might have when they were in the workforce. And I definitely know that one of the biggest segments of social media users include Boomers who are finding their old pals on Facebook, and this is awesome. But my parents think Facebook is creepy so you can pretty much write them out of that demographic!

Mom: I get these emails that say ‘Do you know so-and-so?’ from LinkedIn.
Me: Yeah, those emails happen…
Mom: Well when I see them asking me that, I say, yes, I do, so what?
Me: That means that someone’s probably trying to get in touch with you.
Mom: Oh, I just delete those emails.
[[facepalm]]

Aaaaand in typical Millennial fashion, immediately after this dialog I asked her if I could blog about this. She said sure, so here we are. Fin.

Categories : Social Media