“Where’s my closest exit?”

I attended a Hacker News Seattle Meetup a week or two ago, and on the way home my friend and I talked about connecting people via social media. The conversation made me think of something from high school, and realize how what I enjoyed doing then is very similar to what I really enjoy doing for clients (and friends) now…

When I was in high school, Livejournal was the big site that many of my classmates could be found on. I’m pretty sure I spent most of the time reading posts by people who were actually my friends, but there were a few entertaining individuals with blogs that I’d check almost every day, and several people who I’d check up on every once in a while.

One time, I found the brand new journal/blog of a boy who my friend may have mentioned once or twice, and learned that he decided to make one of his first posts about the crush he had on that friend. I couldn’t keep this from her but knew she didn’t spend as much time on the site as I did, so I printed out the page and handed it to her when I saw her in class the next day. I don’t remember if she ever talked to me about it, but I remember they went on a band trip a day or a few later, and his next post was about how they were sitting on a bus (on that trip) and she chose to sit next to him… and put her head on his shoulder, or something like that. I remember reading the comments, and grinning when someone said something like, “This was the shortest Livejournal crush ever!” They ended up dating for many months or maybe 1-2 years, and broke up a little while before they went off to college. I don’t remember if she ever said anything to me about the connection I made or their relationship, but they were happy for a while and I was happy to have played my role in that… and I was really amused because he and at least one of his friends seemed baffled by how quickly it all happened.

These days, I still try to do this for friends and love doing this for clients. I love learning about businesses and checking out restaurants, but most of my joy doesn’t come from the experience I have the day I find the place/person/app/business. It comes from the moment I find out that I’ve helped someone find a job/employee/friend/customer or discover a place/company/app they love. I have a non-disclosure agreement with most of my clients, so the friend or person I found online usually won’t know that I played a role. Every once in a while I want to tell a person that I was a big part of why something happened, but I’m also happy just knowing I’m one of the people “responsible.”

Maybe, that’s one of the reasons why I talk about businesses and interesting people on Twitter, have written 900+ reviews on Yelp, and have posted on many other sites (like Trover!). Those sites ARE attached to my name, so I do occasionally get notes from friends and strangers who checked out a new restaurant or learned about a new start-up because of me. I guess those sites also give me a more “scalable” way to connect people with things/businesses/places/people they’ll hopefully love or find useful. There’s not enough time in the day for me to find something for everyone (and tell them about it!), and plenty of people don’t ask for help finding a certain something that they may be looking for.

In any case, this “hobby” led to one of my friends and former co-workers saying: “I imagine you inside a ship in the real world looking at the matrix through a computer screen. “Where’s my closest exit?”” I believe somebody else said that’s the Operator in The Matrix. I don’t know about some parts of that role, but I do love spending big chunks of my day watching conversations (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) and looking for ways I can help out, so I can definitely live with that idea and visual.

-Inna

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