Enough of the Gmail Contacts already

Facebook, Quechup, and now Twitter.


Folks, I’ve had it. This is not a feature. It started going downhill when I was still briefly using Facebook, before my permanent embargo — and I got friendship invitation from Hugh MacLeod. Yes — that Hugh MacLeod.

You might would have thought I would have been overwhelmed with amazement and awed at the mighty power of the new and glorious social networks! Me! Friended by Internet Celebrity! A top marketer! Microsoft gets it! Wow, I’ll bet next up, I’ll get friended by Scoble! O’Reilly ((Badgers!)! Cory! Maybe even Guy! Oh that would be the best!


I emailed Hugh MacLeod once, before he was at Microsoft, and was still marketing wine. I think his cartoons are inventive, and honestly — I liked his post once on writing your own manifesto. So I wrote one and sent it.

I thought the Facebook thing was an anomaly. Then I got invited by MacLeod to join Quechup. Why? Because he uploaded his email contact list to that site.

I’m stuck as a buried entry in MacLeod’s address book. I’m not MacLeod’s friend. I’m not in his social network — I’m a single line in a huge ass address list.

I’m sure Hugh is a wonderful fellow. If I was a marketer, or I was a big customer of Microsoft products, or I was Hugh’s neighbor, or I drew cartoons, then maybe I would give a flying damn what he’s doing. But I don’t. And I seriously doubt the man cares about what I’m doing.

There are certainly blogs that I read that I have no relationship to the person writing them. Either they are great writers, or work in industries that I follow, are conduits for information, or are just entertaining. I’m glad that they do it. For some of them, I might could conceivably follow them in social networking tools if they manage to use those mediums in the same way (I follow the del.icio.us feeds for Jeremy Zawodny and Mark Pilgrim because they are good at finding information I’m interested in and after all, it is the lazyweb). I even followed someone pruporting to be Stephen Colbert for a time in twitter because it was funny.

But none of these people are in my social network. And neither is a person that I’ve sent a single email to or gotten an email from.

Real relationships are about conversations. And one’s real social network is a small, small, small group of people. The research has been showing that for years. We all know that. Hell, I know that Hugh knows that. He’s just uploading his email contact list because the sites let him, and… well, I have no earthly no idea why he did it beyond that, because it’s stupid.

Facebook, Quechup, and Twitter — I’m sure you think this is a feature that people want. And I’m sure for a sizeable group of people, it’s good for them to upload their “8” that are in their email address book to their networks. And I’m sure you absolutely love being able to mine that email address data for whatever purposes your advertisers (or potential buyers) can come up with.

But stop the madness alright? Right now it’s just pandering to the look at me crowd, and there are enough of us out there.

These invites and follows aren’t marketing, and they aren’t social networking — they are spam.