The Tragedy of LinkedIn
I have to admit, I’ve had a good relationship with LinkedIn. Mostly.
My first experience with LI was not good- I started getting a lot of emails asking me to connect; not being interested in the newest “gimmick” from the tech world, I found the barrage disgusting. I even wanted to make a tee-shirt that said “No, I don’t want to ###*#% connect on LinkedIn.” If you recall, this was about the same time we’d all get tons of mails asking us to “join Plaxo.” Not sure what happened there.
I relented finally, about 2 years later. I built a profile and started connecting with people. Soon, however, my account went semi-fallow. I wasn’t putting much into it and I wasn’t getting much out of it. I really didn’t think about the potential LI had, just thought of it as a light networking tool.
About 6 years ago, I found religion. I realized that it was not only a great way of connecting to people but also to understanding their professional narratives. Also, there was more. In seeing what people chose to emphasize- and how they describe themselves and their roles-one gets a glimpse into their personalities. Is the person boastful or demure? Is she given to purple prose or bullets and staccato clichés? Is he a risk-taker or a stay-the-course type? And so on.
Over the years, I realized that self-described “disruptors” are not my cup of tea. Most “change agents” hardly lived up to their billing. It was curious to see colleagues from past companies wildly inflating their roles. Still others liked to identify their company-sponsored “Executive Education” off-sites as their main educational attainment; indeed, the number of “Harvard” graduates seemed excessive at first glance! Oh, okay, the two-day course paid for by your company. Okay, got it.
Look, I get it. I’m a Marketer. Putting lipstick on a pig is perhaps too much of an exaggerative perch but surely some embellishment is okay right? Well, clearly, we all embellish. But when you materially change facts or actively promote artifice over authenticity, you’ve crossed the line. And it starts a race to the bottom.
You know you’re at a bad place when there are dozens of publications about “LinkedIn strategy.” You can get coaching on how to “sound authentic.” You know the game is close-to-over when you need to learn that perversion. I use LinkedIn, and will continue to, but of late I’ve been flooded with messages of these typologies:
1. Just wanted to see how you are doing with Covid-19. Also, please contact me if you need leads.
2. I have developers that work for very little. Let’s set up a time.
3. I have an amazing idea that I need to raise 15M dollars for. I’m sure you’d be interested.
4. Hey, I pinged you yesterday and you didn’t answer. It must be because you’re busy. So here I am again.
5. I looked at your website and feel your solution needs my help. Set up time on Calendly.
6. My company “Awesome bad-ass big-F leads” has an “innovative process” that will make you rich. You need this!
That’s where we are now and that’s the tragedy of LinkedIn. A brilliant platform for connecting, community, and commerce is now a marketplace of utter banality, mediocrity, duplicity, and, well, utterly vapid bullshit.
It’s not LinkedIn’s fault. It’s ours.