Monday, October 26, 2009

20SB Blog Swap: Confessions of an Internet Middleman

Today is the sixth 20-Something Bloggers blog swap. Greek Physique was kind enough to write up a guest post. You can read my post over at his blog. Enjoy!

It probably started my first year of college. A cute girl was having problems with her e-mail, told me about it, and I sent her an e-mail giving her a link on how to fix it. Because I’m inept, I didn’t notice that she was interested in me—until of course her crush had worn off, and mine had mushroomed. And that was the beginning of my career as an Internet Middleman (dons cape)!

I have an odd passion for connecting people to people or valuable sources of information. I’m the guy who, six months after we met, sends you a link to Australian rugby stories because I suddenly remember that you play the sport. I once hosted a dinner for several blog friends in New York City, none of whom knew each other. Two of them started a long-term relationship soon after. And I’ve been known to also match people together who I thought would be great friends.

It's a nerdy skill, I grant you that. It's kind of hard to brag at a party that "Yesterday, Mom wanted to hear a sermon in German, and I found a church site in 5 minutes!" And for some reason, ladies don't swoon when I waggle my fingers in a typing motion and tell them I can meet all their search needs--strangest thing!

But life as an Internet middleman does have its rewards. It’s personally satisfying to solve people’s problems and get people from point A to point B. My passion and curiosity for finding good information is genuine, and it comes out in my work life too. On some social networking sites, people will e-mail me for tech help…and also where to find the blogs or sites for the prettiest girls to talk to, ha. It got to the point where I started being suspicious of the reasons why guys were friending me on social networks—and I had good reason to be! I'm an Internet Middleman, not an Internet Pimp. And yes, I've gotten to know and meet some people way out of my league because I was able to do them a favor.

But on the other hand, you can see the dark side of this. What if I tell you that so-and-so is a great friend or potential business source—and he turns out to be an idiot? Is it my fault for a bad recommendation? Or what if that web-site I recommended has a virus, or people are mean there to my friend? Verifying trustworthiness on the web is very difficult, and I’ve been burned before. And it becomes irritating that so many people seem to forget the service I rendered them. The couples or friends I create seem to be very bad at getting back to me and saying “Oh, thanks for helping me!” I don’t want to be paid, but I do want to be thanked, or have a business colleague reciprocate when I need something. And of course, I would like to get links and friend recommendations myself! In my most cynical moments, I worry that some people see me more as an impersonal computer robot than an emotional human being.

However, overall I enjoy working as an Internet Middleman. I think the key is just doing a better job of PR (of course I’d find a way to connect this to Holly’s blog!). I have to be honest with myself—when am I being generous for the sake of generosity, and when do I actually expect something in return? The person who I am helping should know that too. And if the person is too selfish to reciprocate, it is not my fault—there are others who will.

This post is a part of 20SB’s Blog Swap, sponsored by Bouncer.

3 comments: to “ 20SB Blog Swap: Confessions of an Internet Middleman

  • Martha Farag
    8:18 PM  

    Hi Holly! (I replied to your post on John's blog.)

    It must be annoying to be taken advantage of/unappreciated, but that's what happens when you are nice to everyone. Like you said, there are others who will reciprocate the favor, even when the majority of people won't; most are out there only to fend for themselves, but there are those few good people who make up for it all and make you want to continue helping everyone selflessly. =] After all, do you think the internet would be any place to live without the good Middlemen like you around?

  • Kristen
    12:55 AM  

    Lol, careful, it sounds like you're a regular Emma...

  • Krista
    11:13 PM  

    Aww. I am sorry. Thank you. :-) I have found a few Xanga friends through you. I would be happy to recommend some for you, but you know almost everyone I do on Xanga. lol

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