Every Saturday morning, I get an email from LinkedIn.
“You appeared in 13 searches this week!” the subject line said recently. The number of searches is always different, depending on how many people had tried to find me. Thirteen was unusually high; I’d been popular that week.
“You were found by people from these companies,” the email informed me that day, with a display of logos, most of which were unfamiliar. As always, the email included a button to “see all searches.”
And, as always, I clicked on it, because who doesn’t want to feel wanted (except maybe folks on the FBI’s Most Wanted List)? The problem is that, while LinkedIn tells me what companies have me in their sights, it refuses to answer the big question:
Why are they looking for me?
My day job is as a freelance direct mail consultant, and sometimes one of my clients is on the list. I choose to regard that as a good thing–that there’s somebody new at that firm who has heard well of me and is thinking of giving me an assignment. Although I guess it could also mean that someone there is wondering why the hell they hired me in the first place.
Often a printing firm or a mailing list broker or a designer has been looking for me; they obviously did a search for people in marketing and they want me to give them business. They probably think that Mark Hallen, Inc. is a major corporation that consists of much more than Mark Hallen. Well, the joke’s on them.
Sometimes there’s a financial institution; that could go either way. They may want me to help sell their credit cards or they may want me to apply for their credit cards.
Then there are the outliers. Like on the Saturday in question, I was informed that somebody from Custom Interface searched for me. Custom Interface is, evidently, an “electrical & electronic manufacturing” company. What could they possibly be looking for that would make my name show up? “Hey, Joe, wanna have some fun? Let’s search LinkedIn for ‘people who cower at the sight of an exposed wire.’”
But that wasn’t even the strangest Mark Hallen searcher that day. I also learned that a “military officer” in the U.S. Army was looking for me.
When I saw that, I shuddered involuntarily. I grew up in the sixties. Back then, we didn’t want any branch of the service looking for us.
But why was the Army looking for me now? Did they want to recruit me, possibly to give a direct mail slant to the flyers they airdrop over enemy territory? (“If you’re with ISIS,” one could say, “you may already be a loser.” Or maybe, “Congratulations! You’ve been pre-approved for a drone strike!”)
Or had one of my posts, possibly the one about how joining the military was statistically safer than walking around America, gotten the attention of some Army general who now wanted to thank me . . . or shoot me?
Or had Donald Trump seen one of my frequent criticisms of his policies, or his demeanor, or his intelligence, or his hair, and taken offense (just as Vladamir Putin once actually did–sort of), and sicced the Army on me? I doubted that. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have thumbed out a few tweets of dissatisfaction first. Something like this, perhaps:
The thing is, I have no way of knowing why the Army is looking for me. And, try as I might, I can’t figure out a way to put a positive spin on it.
So, if that “military officer” who searched for me on LinkedIn is reading this post, allow me to sincerely apologize for everything I’ve ever done, including any anti-war editorials I might have written for my high school newspaper during the Vietnam War.
See you soon (but not you, general, I hope.)