Thursday 7 October 2021

Essential Snobbery 101: Lazy profiles and social mis-engagement

A profile absent of you

A message arrives on my phone from an unidentified number without an introduction but a greeting with familiarity suggesting we met somewhere some time ago and the expectation that I will immediately respond as if by some divination or telepathy I have fully acknowledged who that person is.

I will call it social mis-engagement, the mistake of seeing yourself through the profile or attributes of another and by that believing the other can see the same of you when you have provided no identifiable or distinguishable information to make you recognisable.

This presents in many places, in emails, text messages, profiles, and other forms of social and communication forums. This is the scenario; you have a profile, an apparently blank one, let’s say for purposes of discretion and nothing wrong with that. You view another profile that has all the fields diligently filled in, personally identifiable information, maybe pictures and descriptive text highlighting particularities and more. This is enough to pique your interest, and so you decide to engage.

Know yourself from others

Whatever might have inspired the engagement in the profile viewed is not present in your profile, but something suggests to you unawares that this person is as interested in you and you are in them, even as your profile remains completely nondescript. You fall into presumption thinking the person you engaged without you sharing anything of yourself is enthralled in you.

Through that engagement, you test patience, courtesy, respectfulness, and niceness totally unaware that you’re losing making good conversation, their interest and failing to sustain their engagement. Then the sheer effrontery of asking for more personal information without having volunteered anything of you is quite a lack of goodwill and done in bad faith, you must first attempt to balance out the deficit of information in your profile before asking for more.

Unwittingly, you are also being profiled, your parsimony with personal information belies an absence of generosity, awareness, or empathy when meeting strangers. A selfish streak of finding only satisfaction for self without some mutuality comes across as an involuntary character trait for which you might be judged and can well prejudice that engagement. It may not be seen as rude, but the absence of social graces is too obvious to ignore.

Be quick to volunteer

When anyone is engaged with an imbalance of essential profile elements, they should not have to wait to be asked to present those pieces of information and avoid frustrating the engagement. People maintain interest through stimuli, a blank profile be it contact information, on social media, or on LinkedIn is hardly such, it is a put off at best.

A one-sided kind of engagement breeds unnecessary resentment and reeks of self-importance, the apparent secretiveness if that is the reason is the harbinger of social mis-engagement that once the patience of the other who had put the work into their profile is exhausted, all means of continuing communication will be lost rather than being met with silence. You will be blocked and depending on the forum as unprofessional, unserious, or a timewaster.

Do the graft work

There are no hard and fast rules, but as a matter of courtesy, if you intend to engage others in a forum that provides to means to populate a profile, do the work. Do not invite people into a conversation when you sport a lazy and empty profile or readily provide the information without prompting to bring the other person up to speed about who you are and why you are interested in them. By the same token, you also give them the opportunity to have reference points that will grow their interest in you.

Then also, if the information is already in their profile, read it and understand it, only ask questions to confirm or clarify content, or to elicit more information about elements not already in their profile. Do not assume because you think no one will read your profile and that having informed your decision not to populate it means others have been thinking the same way as you.

Don’t be a parasite

Engagement should tend towards the symbiotic and mutually beneficial, it should not be parasitic and demanding, caring little for the other. The enthusiasm with which you engage others would be reciprocated with the willingness to volunteer as much about yourself or else it is just the unfair exploitation of others. Invariably, do unto others as you expect to be done unto.

If you will not do your profile stick with birds of the same feather without profiles, at least you have a level playing field and will know that your interest was out of mere curiosity rather than genuine interest in the person and what they are about. Selah!

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