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LinkedIn Deception

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and to a much lesser extent, LinkedIn, have mostly proven an invaluable resource for me, not simply for promoting my book, but also for political activism, networking and even hosting internet radio programs like Conservative Republican Republican Forum (which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary) and The Liberty Belle Hour (still on hiatus until August).

But as I’ve learned in the political realm, social media — when employed by unscrupulous people — can also wreak havoc and damage innocent reputations, if left unchecked. And if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to block a Ron Paul freak on Facebook, I’d be able to donate large sums of money to every conservative candidate of my choice.

On a personal note, before I parlayed my grassroots activism into an online revolutionary presence (along with countless other like-minded Americans), I experienced the downside of this new medium. In December of 2008, Water Signs had been on the market just three months, and I was busy finding new and creative ways to advertise it in cyberspace and in the real world. I hadn’t heard from “Ken” since our Labor Day chat, and other than knowing he’d created a free log-in on the website (which enables readers to sample five chapters), I had no idea if he’d even read the entire book — and if so — whether he loved or hated it.

Then one day in early December, I got a very strange request via the LinkedIn website, allegedly from “Ken”, who at the time was one of my connections (though for obvious reasons, no longer). Although I don’t spend much time at all on this site, never having developed a real liking for it, back then I utilized it quite a bit. And since I’d received many previous requests via LinkedIn for recommendations before, I was well-acquainted with their official style and format, versus a “fake” made to appear as if it’s coming from their site.

Anyway, this request for recommendation from “Kenneth Lockheart” looked like all of the others when I opened it up in my email account. However, when I read the personalized message, I knew immediately something was definitely off:

Dear Daria,

I am sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know. Responsible, professional, thorough…big johnson…what have you…haha…basically make something up.

Thanks in advance for helping me out. I will do the same. Let’s get creative.

First, for anyone who might not be aware, “johnson” is a colloquial term for a guy’s manhood, the equivalent of “gonads” or as Michelle Malkin once famously referred to them, “gumballs”. For all of his faults, the “Ken” I knew never disrespected me, nor did he ever use any sort of colorful language around me, even when angry. So for him to throw in the line about a “big johnson” was completely out of the norm. In fact, the moment I read the email, my intuition sounded the alarm that this ridiculous request did not in fact originate with “Ken”, but with his wife.

Secondly, other than the little he’d shared with me on the phone, I didn’t know much about “Ken’s” professional life, and was therefore unqualified to make a recommendation in the first place. I wasn’t a client who could testify to his excellent follow-up and pervasive knowledge of his product. I was just someone who remembered him as having a stellar work ethic, which is evident through my description of his character in Water Signs.

Lastly, the request came from out of the blue. As I mentioned, we’d not spoken in three months, during which time I’d published the book. If he didn’t think enough of the novel — in which a character based on him plays a dominant role — to email or call me with some kind of reaction, what on earth would compel him to suddenly ask for a reference via LinkedIn?

None of it made sense. And though I knew in my heart who the responsible party was, I am not one to throw out unfounded accusations. I needed some proof.

For a few weeks, I did nothing, as the hectic Christmas Season unfolded and I busied myself with the usual activities that characterize that time of year. However, during a visit to Philly later that month, my cousin encouraged me to email him to get to the truth. I regret that I refused to give him the benefit of the doubt when crafting my correspondence — per Annie’s protective instincts. I also regret that I allowed her to talk me into using “WTF” as the subject line. But my biggest mistake by far was failing to initially forward the original request to him, complete with the official LinkedIn header.

Instead, in a new email, I wrote:

Hey Ken,

Just had a minute to review my inbox again as I am extremely busy promoting my book. Quite honestly, your email had me very perplexed, thus explaining the subject line of this response. I am not sure exactly why you are asking for a recommendation since I’ve never been a client and haven’t been a part of your life in any meaningful way in quite a long time. As for the “johnson” comment, well…I obviously wouldn’t know anything about that. đŸ™‚

Regarding the recommendation, I only give those out for people whose work I am familiar with.

Sorry I couldn’t help you,

Daria

I don’t know if he’s constantly plugged in via computer or BlackBerry, but his response was almost instantaneous, incredibly terse, definitely rude and — as you will note, lacking in proper punctuation:

recommendation? not sure what happened as I don’t need any… sorry. good luck with the book. hope your readers enjoy.. adios

That prompted me to dig through my emails to retrieve the original LinkedIn request and send it back to him, along with the subject line, “Maybe this will refresh your memory. Happy New Year!”

It would be nearly a year before I’d hear anything from him again.

However, a few weeks later the mystery was solved when MyLife.com sent me a link to a list of people who’d recently check out my profile (which I promptly deleted from that site). Surprise, surprise…”Erin” had been one of them. Moreover, she’d looked me up on December 9, and I’d received the LinkedIn request shortly thereafter. My gut instinct had been correct, it had been her all along. But rather than follow-up with “Ken”, I decided to let the matter drop.

This led me to conclude that both “Ken” and “Erin” had not only read Water Signs, but that it had opened up a torrent of emotion. What else would explain her deception in logging into a social media site with her husband’s credentials and falsely requesting a work recommendation from me?

But what exactly did she hope to gain? If she suspected her husband was being unfaithful, did she really think this was a viable method of catching him in the act? I suppose in the age of social media, such antiquated notions like hiring a private detective have gone the way of the beeper.

This is all very ironic as well, considering the fact that I haven’t even been in the same room with “Ken” since the mid-90s. If he’d in fact cheated on her, it certainly hadn’t been with me.

I don’t know what went through “Ken’s” mind when he saw the original LinkedIn email I forwarded, but I do know how hurt and angry I’d felt after he basically told me to go to hell. Come to think of it, that was quite an overreaction; was he really that offended by “WTF”? Hard to imagine.

Anyway, in January of 2009 — concurrent with discovering Erin’s LinkedIn deception, I attended a marketing seminar in Boca Raton, where the expression “six degrees of separation” would take on new and personal meaning. More on that in my next post.

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Filed under Lifestyle, Pop Culture, Professional Experience, Social Media, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Fabulous Female Patriots

Please visit YouTube and add another number to Ava’s total views.

Yesterday’s Examiner article by Hank Oprinski — along with the many wonderful comments that followed from fellow patriots and friends — provided a much-needed boost to my spirits. While I always strive to be a happy warrior to help keep others motivated and energized for the fight, I must confess: there are days when the bad news can be so overwhelming it’s a challenge to even log onto Facebook, let alone post something inspiring and uplifting.

During those troubling moments, I remember to FROG — Fully Rely On God, asking that Eternal Presence for strength while recalling that our Founding Fathers often did the same. Nothing is impossible with God, not even returning this beloved country back to its Constitutional principles.

God has answered my prayers in many ways, and I want to address just one of them here. While I am honored, humbled and thrilled to receive recognition for my work after years of plugging away, the truth is there’s an endless list of fabulous female patriots who deserve their own write-up. I am forever grateful to have found these ladies through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter; networking and developing solid relationships with them has given me strength, hope and encouragement during these very bleak times.

As I mentioned in the Examiner piece, I grew up in a conservative home with a mom who was quite the political activist. From the time I was little, I accompanied her to various polling locations, where I’d hold up signs, pass out candidate literature and — when old enough to do so — help count votes at the end of the day. Thankfully, my siblings and close relatives have remained solid in their convictions, so unlike many friends, I haven’t experienced any Obama-induced rancor in my familial relationships.

When I moved to South Florida in 1994, I retained my conservative values, but wasn’t quite prepared for the pervasive liberalism that characterizes Palm Beach and Broward Counties. While I found other conservative women through my participation as a volunteer on various campaigns, in normal life, I was severely outnumbered. In other venues, such as business card exchanges and women’s business networking groups, it seemed nearly impossible to find a contrary opinion among the successful female entrepreneurs and go-getters. Worse, it was pretty much expected (with a few exceptions) of all female members to share the same philosophy, whether on abortion, gun rights, education or war — just to name a few hot-button issues.

Over the years, some otherwise nice women have said such things to me as:

I still love you, even though you’re a Republican.

Y-you’re a Republican??? But you’re so nice!

You voted for George W. Bush???? How could you?

Of course the tobacco companies should be sued. Those poor people didn’t know how addictive nicotine could be! (This one was in response to my noting that the Surgeon General’s warning about cigarettes and health had been around for decades, thus people needed to take responsibility for their own choices.)

You’re against abortion? Then don’t have one! (Never mind the fact that taxpayers are forced to pay for them, or that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional.)

Of course your parents didn’t abort you even though they were struggling financially and not looking to add a fifth child to the family. They knew your father’s medical career would take off soon! (As if the sanctity of life has anything to do with how much money the parents have. I can assure you, even if my dad had been a trash collector, I would not have been aborted. End of story.)

And of course, throughout (and in the years following) the fiasco that was the Election of 2000, with its hanging chads, seemingly endless recounts and 24-hour news coverage, things only got worse. I remember at one particular women’s venue in 2003, right about the time the Iraq War had begun, a female psychologist made the incredibly inane statement that “if not for men, there would be no war.”   She naturally followed this up with a lovely diatribe against President Bush to which every woman in the group, with the exception of yours truly, nodded along approvingly.

Following 9/11, some of these gals — in true liberal, self-flagellating fashion — blamed the USA, with one of my friends at the time actually longing for a quiet life in a thatched-roof cottage on a hillside in Ireland (never mind that this same woman loved making money and all of the designer trappings that resulted from such a pursuit). I’m pretty sure to this day, she still resides in glamorous Boca Raton.

Up until the worst attack on American soil, I relegated my commentary to “safe” places like Republican meetings, family gatherings and pro-US Military demonstrations where I’d be surrounded by like-minded people. But once I realized the rules had changed, that our very freedom was under relentless assault, I became more vocal even in decidedly unfriendly places. Not surprisingly, this did not endear me to the abortion-on-demand-Republicans-are-evil crowd, although at that point I truly didn’t care. If I could sway just one opinion, it would be worth taking the slings and arrows.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2008, when I discovered through various righty blogs that there was a conservative online revolution taking place on Facebook and Twitter. Having been an avid blogger by that point who’d even appeared on Fox News in August, 2004 to discuss politics and dating, I decided to get in on the action. I’d also just finished my first novel Water Signs, and thought it would also be a great way to market the book. While I’d hoped to connect with others who shared my love for the USA, I never expected to cultivate such genuine friendships with so many beautiful female (and male) patriots.

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I realized the existence of thousands of heretofore unknown conservative soul-mates of the estrogen variety –many who live right here in South Florida — to my great surprise and delight. Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know some amazing female grassroots activists all across this great nation, and I am thankful to God for each and every one of them.

They keep me motivated, strong and optimistic. They pick me up when I’m feeling down. They inform me of important news events and local happenings. They stand with me for freedom.

In short, because of them, I am able to keep up this fight in the onslaught of one egregious happening after another since the inauguration of Obama. From Obamacare to the Gulf oil disaster — and every horrible occurrence in-between and yet to come — these intelligent,  articulate and independent-minded ladies give me real hope that WE THE PEOPLE will ultimately prevail.

Thank you to all of them for being such a positive force in my life. May God bless each and every one!

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Filed under Lifestyle, Politics, Pop Culture, Professional Experience, Sarah Palin, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal