Like many people who had extra — but unwanted — time on their hands while job hunting I started to spend more time online. At first it was just reading the news and looking for reassurance that the deteriorating state of the financial system wasn’t all my fault. I sent more email (mostly job applications) and spoke to friends and family back home over Skype more than I had in the three years I’ve been here.
I created a presence on several networking sites and, inevitably, I joined the “over-30” demographic on Facebook and started looking up any name that popped into my head. Although I’d joined back when it was just a little site that nobody really had heard of yet, I cleaned up my semi-dormant profile (read: removed the werewolf game, virtual drinks and imaginary plants) to be as honest as I could; I felt that the more places I could use to leverage my skills the greater my chances of finding something — anything — to get thru this mess.
In the past six months I’ve become increasingly dependent on my iPhone as a portal that allows me to be unchained from a desk while allowing me to remain perpetually connected to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, AIM and, most recently, Skype. And when I say “perpetually”, I mean that no matter where you are you will think of some reason to check out what your friends are doing on Facebook or tweet some pearl of wisdom.
That said, looking for work in a climate of contraction is truly a grind but is no excuse for wasting time. In the spirit of persistence and belief in myself — something I attribute to my now-daily meditation practice and the seemingly infinite patience of my partner — I have spread my name far and wide via Ziggs, Plaxo and, of course, Linkedin.
My online presence has predictably increased traffic to my website as well as resulting in a few semi-productive meetings with people who’ve found — and, apparently, liked — my profile; I’ve exchanged messages with old high school and college friends, and even some ex-colleagues I’d worked with over 15 years ago; I talk to my mom more now, and she gets to video chat with the kids a few times a week.
And yet, with all the tools available for bridging gaps between people as they live out their busy lives, I still feel… disconnected.
I was reading about the structure and function of social websites and the psychology of connectedness was of particular interest to me. The bottom line is that the surge in membership and popularity is largely due to (surprise!) people’s inherent need for need to be validated as having some meaning to another person.
I would estimate that the degree of the need for this is proportional to the amount of time spent online “socializing”; further, I would guess that with millions of people out of work, homes being lost or abandoned and the titans of industry on the brink of failure — and for them I have no real sympathy — the fear of losing a job or your home is having a galvanizing effect on relationships, as is evidenced by the millions of people feeding volumes of personal information into what are essentially huge databases.
BTW, if you’d like to follow me on any of the above mentioned sites, contact me at waterfront [dot] zen [at] gmail.com. Hypocritical? Maybe. But it’s all Zen, baby.