THE KEYBOARD AT MIDNIGHT – A DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE

IT’S MIDNIGHT. Ian is falling asleep – sorry, teetering on the edge of his chair with excitement – in front of Match of the Day as Wilting Wanderers and Crackpot United slog it out on the pitch. I, meanwhile, am at the keyboard looking in a desultory sort of way for somebody I met forty years ago and whose name has sprung unbidden to my mind. I Google his name and am taken to Linked In, a site for connecting active, dynamic, professional people with other active, dynamic, professional people who then – well, I don’t know because I’m not one.

I find myself listed as a “hospitality professional” which sounds like a euphemism for a prostitute, or maybe a cleaner. Who chose it? Me, probably, in a moment not unlike this one – idly surfing at midnight and finding myself straying along the highways and byways of the internet. I change it to something that sounds a bit better if not particularly accurate, and lo and behold up pops a list of 10 names from my gmail address book with ticks alongside and a suggestion I might invite them to connect.

I de-select all but three: people I knew professionally a long time ago and who I think, in a vague sort of way, might be useful if ever I decide to do some more editing work. As I press ‘send’ I think little of it, and head back to the original search for the long-lost man. Within a minute a message flashes up – “Congratulations! There are 194 people in your address book. You have invited 191 of them to connect with you via Linked In.”

In other words everybody except the three I ‘d chosen. Or thought I’d chosen. Oh lord. A mountain of emails hit my inbox. Mostly of the “Not sure what this Linked In thing is, Betsy. Do I have to do anything?” variety. Still others tell me they’re no longer ‘economically active,’ or are too old, or technophobic, or are – in one sad case of a woman I hardly know – about to be made redundant, as is her husband, and therefore not worthy of the invite. Others lightly accept and, presumably, now expect something exciting and interesting to happen. It won’t.

Worst of all, I have to write to many of them telling them of my midnight mistake – and therefore giving them the great news that I actually didn’t want to connect with them at all.

My brother, meanwhile, apart from wondering how useful I’ve found the site, asks rather pertinently in his email: “Have you fully recovered from your fall?”

Obviously not . . . .

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