Thanks to the Internet, we now have a host of new ways to offend, enrage, misinterpret, creep out, or alienate people. In Tangled Web, we field your questions about how to be a decent human online. Have a question? Ask firstname.lastname@example.org.
People keep adding me to their circles on Google+. It’s mostly people I’ve never heard of, but recently someone I’d really like to have as a job contact. I used to be active there, but it’s been years since I posted, and I feel like it would be really suspicious if I started back up again just because I am trying to impress/keep in touch with this person. But on the other hand… I am trying to impress/keep in touch with this person. Should I add them back? Should I reactivate my account?
Oh man, the sad saga of Google+. I actually have good friends who I met there, during the five minutes when people were really excited about its potential. But then we naturally migrated our friendships to Twitter and email, because we already knew how those worked and what they were for. Nobody really had a cogent argument about why G+ would be better.
I’d wager this was a lot of people’s experience, so your potential contact is unlikely to genuinely expect you to be active on G+. And unless that person work for Google, you don’t need to start using G+ just to impress him or her.
But there’s no reason not to add them back, either. Presumably you’re just existing silently on G+, not posting anything embarrassing—and besides, the beauty of the “circles” system is that even if you were in a Secret Google+ Porn Critique and Appreciation Club back when you were a G+ user, those posts would be invisible to your new friend. If you’re conscientious about using circles, your new friend will just see a squeaky clean profile, with all the depraved things you used to get up to safely tucked away.
So add them back, why not? And then take that as an opportunity to link up with them on social networks (and networking websites) that you actually use. Reciprocate their G+ interest, then send an invite for LinkedIn or some other site that’s not mainly used by tumbleweeds.
Jess Zimmerman has been making social blunders on the Internet since 1994. Most of her current interpersonal drama takes place on Twitter (@j_zimms).
Illustration by Jason Reed