There are two main ways you can approach the internet:
- You can be patient and giving, contribute to the discourse, and leave it better than you found it.
- Work to squeeze every bit of value out of it and not worry about what’s left when you’re done.
Individuals likely have some granular levels between those, but businesses are often much more black and white. For example, I got an unsolicited message on a LinkedIn a few days ago that said the following:
Our team has launched (redacted), sales & prospecting automation software for Linkedin that allows you to not only automate connection requests and messages you send, but also create campaigns and build sales funnels on Linkedin.
“Automate connection requests and messages you send” — that’s not good. One of the growing problems with social media is noise from automation, and this tool is explicitly designed to do exactly that.
To show that they know what they’re really doing, their website touts various features that help you to be super careful to avoid LinkedIn’s monitoring and spam systems — because they know they’re doing a bad thing.
Making solid connections is getting more difficult than ever, and tools like this are only making it worse. The problem is that tools like this will temporarily make life a little better for those that use them, as it gives them a leg up, but it ultimately creates more noise and is leading LinkedIn (and the internet as a whole) in a bad direction.
Automation can be good
Automation can be a good thing. If you find a tool that helps you streamline your workflow, go for it! Computers and the internet can make many aspects of our life much easier, and that should be celebrated.
However, if the primary use of a tool is to reach more people, that’s just called spam. Even if it doesn’t make you look dumb (like Mountain View Ford), you’re still contributing to make the internet a worse experience for everyone.
When you go hiking or camping, you’re encouraged to leave things better than when you found them. We should strive to do the same online.