Unwanted Social Networking

I was chatting with Steven Cohen today, and he suggested something that I asked him about would make a good post. I had actually been thinking about posting it… so I thought “what the heck. If he found it interesting, probably others would, too.”

I asked Steven if he had been “skyped” lately… meaning this. I have Skype installed. Some in my library’s IT department have even found a good use for it – calling our English rep for the z-portal product we’re in the midst of installing (he actually asked us if we used Skype, and I was able to say “Yes!” and look hip in the process).

Anyway, yesterday as I was getting ready to leave for the day, my Skype calling window popped up, and it said that “David King” is calling you. Hmm, I thought – that’s me! So I answered, hoping beyond hope that I wasn’t actually calling myself (it comically reminded me of some silly movie I watched in grade school about a woman meeting herself at the door of some stranger’s house…).

Thankfully, I didn’t call myself. Instead, it was a 25-year-old student from Europe (I think he said Belgium) with a little too much time on his hands. He was browsing through the “Search for Skype Users” list, found someone with the same name (apparently, there are David Kings in Europe), and took it upon himself to call one – namely, me.

Well – being PERFECT STRANGERS to each other, we didn’t really have much to talk about, and we hung up after a few minutes of making small talk. And that leads me to this post about unwanted social networks. A similar thing has happened to me before, when I used to use ICQ. I kept myeslf on the “anyone in the world can contact me” list as an experiment, and lo and behold, people actually contacted me to say hi – usually students with other things to do than homework, wanting to chat. That turned into automated requests for a “date” that ended up pushing 1-900 numbers, so I soon turned off ICQ (and I didn’t really know anyone else using it at the time, anyway).

But now, I’m getting similar things with Skype. Besides the contact mentioned above, I have been contacted by someone in France wanting to practice using her English on someone from America (didn’t answer that one), and have had 4-5 requests for people wanting to add me to their contact list (but not providing a reason WHY they wanted to add me).

Is this good? I’m certainly enjoying keeping up to date and in contact with other library techies. I’m also able to chat with my wife… those are all good. And I love it when other librarians contact me with questions about techie library stuff. But is it good to be interrupted at work by people I don’t know who just want to say Hi because we share the same name? Not so sure about that one.

Possibly my introvertive nature is showing? Or maybe, I don’t mind when people contact me for something I consider to be a real reason, but don’t like it when someone contacts me with something I consider to be a lame reason? Could be.

What do others think? I want to hear someone else talk about this.