Initially, I was careful to follow the conventional wisdom of only connecting with people on LinkedIn I knew in real life. But I quickly realized that such “wisdom” is poppycock, and you have much more to gain by consenting to connections somewhat indiscriminately—at least if you post daily, like I do. More connections means more eyeballs means more people understanding what I have to offer. Thus far, I have not been lured into a cult or lost all my savings to an overseas prince—or whatever the purported risks are of being like me—a self-proclaimed LinkedIn slut.
Anyway, every now and then, I receive messages from new LinkedIn connections that begin with some form of the question, “How are you?”
In real life, I know that such a question can be something of a throwaway line. You might walk past Dolores from accounting, smile, nod, and say, “How’s it going?” You don't really expect Dolores to answer. You two know one another, so it’s appropriate to sling and accept such niceties. Questions like “How ya doin’” are understood to be merely phatic. (👈 Great word alert!)
But when a complete stranger on LinkedIn asks me how I am, it feels both preposterous and off-putting. It’s like they’ve just asked me when I lost my virginity or had my last bowel movement. All I can think is, “Why on earth are you asking me that, and why would I ever answer you?”
Then part of me fantasizes about answering their question with the singleminded goal of rendering them speechless. I could say something like:
“So glad you asked! Are you familiar with scurvy? And scabies? And gingivitis? I have those. Plus two flat tires and a warrant for my arrest. On the plus side, a DNA test has revealed that I’m two-thirds Australian cattle dog, so I’ve filed for dual citizenship. Oh, and I’ve discovered an amazing opportunity I’d love to tell you about, and all I need is $999.99 for your first information session. No time like the present, I always say—would you rather use a credit card or PayPal?”
Alas, I never do this. Out of a mixture of self-preservation, laziness, and probably a soupçon of hostility, I simply never respond. I ghost them. So I will call this my ghost story, and with it, I will wish you a Happy Halloween—whether I know you or not.