How LinkedIn Became a Place to Overshare
September 19, 2022 11:16 AM   Subscribe

 
Interesting article, thanks for sharing. I thought it was just my contacts who were sharing more about their personal lives, and it's interesting to see that it's broader than that. It's also kind of amusing to see a company reacting to a user-generated shift like that.

Personally, I enjoy reading about people's leadership experiences and the issues of psychological well-being etc. that they are dealing with in their professional lives on LinkedIn. Work is such a big part of life for most of us that a hard separation doesn't make sense. I have to admit, though, that I've been surprised at some of the really personal posts I've seen, and also at how popular they are.
posted by rpfields at 11:50 AM on September 19


On the other hand, I absolutely passed on a job candidate because she posted an antivax screed on her LinkedIn. Not just for the content but because she exhibited terrible judgement in putting that on freaking LinkedIn. Just a big 'ol red flag.
posted by emjaybee at 12:10 PM on September 19 [47 favorites]


When Facebook was still newish I had an account with a lot of work contacts and there was discussion of work stuff there - at least in my circles. As it's become worse and worse, I think it was inevitable that some of that moved over to LinkedIn.

At the same time, I think LinkedIn is better for it. There's less naked "connect with me so I can have a bigger network" crap than I used to see in LI. For a long time I just had no use for LinkedIn - now there's the occasional conversation that's actually worthwhile.

Like all social media, it's very performative. I actually like when people just let it all out - except when, as emjaybee alludes to, you find out that a colleague has some views that are a red flag. I've definitely seen a few posts where it's like "shit, now I have to be in meetings with this person knowing they think ________. That's no fun."
posted by jzb at 12:21 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


If this increases noise and general chatter to the point where you can no longer infer that someone's sudden engagement on LinkedIn means they're looking for new opportunities, then why not? Plausible deniability is good for everyone.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:24 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]




"Not all are happy about the changes. Some said they find that they cannot use the site in the same way. A newsfeed crowded with personal posts, they said, can distract from the information they seek on LinkedIn."

LinkedIn is just about marketing yourself. It has always been that way and it remains that way. The difference is not about whether it is still a personal marketing site, but about what kind of marketing content the market finds compelling.

The generous language around the new content dynamic involves valorizing the idea of "bringing your whole self to work." The cynical language is, well, more cynical than that, but might cite a brave post about not hiding your tattoos anymore because, goddamnit, you're not gonna hide your real you, which is an upper middle class director of product management at a Bay Area tech company who has tattoos.

I did a little mini LinkedIn content campaign that was more old-school: Decision-making frameworks, prioritization tools, practices to enhance hybrid-remote/async work. That stuff all did okay in terms of engagement. I also slid in one about mindfulness and workplace conflict. That one did way better. And the one on how to better listen to people did even better than that. I talked to my job coach about it and her take was that I was probably mining the right vein, and that the sweet spot is somewhere around how "the whole self" interacts with the corporate environment, not the confessional or identity-driven stuff. But also she was being pragmatic about that, and her advice was specific to me: She warned me away from talking about identity much because that would be a loser for me -- instead she had me scrubbing my college graduation date from my résumé.

This article spends some time on identity and how identity-related content is more popular/desirable now, but it's still a platform where you better be scrubbing parts of your identity out of it to avoid discrimination. IOW, it's as toxically hypocritical as the HR business partner who knows to say "that candidate didn't have a certain energy we're looking for," while encouraging people to be "vulnerable" to drive up engagement and sell services.
posted by mph at 12:33 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


Balk’s First Law: Everything you hate about the Internet is actually everything you hate about people.

Balk’s Second Law: The worst thing is knowing what everyone thinks about anything.

Balk’s Third Law: If you think the Internet is terrible now, just wait a while.
posted by General Malaise at 12:36 PM on September 19 [39 favorites]


I could see this coming. Facebook connects people from the same high school or college, and maybe distant relatives. They were founded as a college student connection site.

But as people graduate from college and have lives, they often drift away from their high school and college friends, and often even family they've moved away from. I sometimes dread going on Facebook to read opinions of people I no longer have anything in common with.

LinkedIn finds itself more and more relevant as people become more involved in their working life. Earlier in my life I was surprised how well Facebook was at figuring out who I know and might want to connect with. Now it is really bad at this. It is now LinkedIn that seems to earily know who I am acquainted with. I haven't taken advantage of this to start using it as a social platform, but I can see how people might do that.
posted by eye of newt at 12:46 PM on September 19


On the other hand, I absolutely passed on a job candidate because she posted an antivax screed on her LinkedIn. Not just for the content but because she exhibited terrible judgement in putting that on freaking LinkedIn.

I've had similar experiences and I hate to say it, but I feel like this is a feature, not a bug. I was happy to find out that a candidate who looked good on paper and had performed well in an interview actually had terrible judgement before, rather than after they were hired. And, because they had posted their problematic stuff on LinkedIn, rather than FB or somewhere else, I felt like it was fair game* to take it into account in assessing them as a professional.

*ETA we do look at people's social media, and we're honest about doing so, but somehow basing an opinion on somebody's FB posts feels creepy in a way that making the same assessment about something on LinkedIn does not. YMMV of course.
posted by rpfields at 12:55 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


I see a lot of complaints about "LinkedIn isn't Facebook" or "Keep politics off of LinkedIn" (lol) on posts that are about topics of oppression. I follow a bunch of people whose jobs are raising awareness about DEI, disability, and neurodiversity in the workplace, and the most vocal objections to the content are from people who are clearly interested in perpetuating their own privilege. They object to those posts while their own activity feeds contain likes and positive comments on conservative politics.

Their hypocrisy is normalized. Worse, there's provable instances of shadow-banning by LinkedIn and some of the worst replies, full of blatant misinformation and racism are allowed to persist on the platform. LinkedIn has a problem with supporting oppression in their moderation.

Follow Madison Butler and Khafre Jay to see what they deal with every day on LI.
posted by Revvy at 12:55 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


This explains why I felt like I was seeing the same content over and over again on LinkedIn:
John Nemo, a consultant who specializes in generating business leads for clients on LinkedIn, said that he coaches people to follow a formula: “personal story + business lesson = the content.”

He demonstrated his formula with news about the death of a hypothetical dog named Ralph.

“Personal story is Ralph died,” he said. “What’s the business lesson in this?”

He suggested starting the post with the update: “I lost my best friend yesterday, Ralph the dog, and here’s a photo of us.”

Then add an observation about making deals: “One thing I’ve learned in sales is you’re constantly losing, you’re constantly getting rejected, you’re constantly having people abandon you.”
Link it back to the dog: “One thing I love about Ralph, as any dog owner knows, is that they’ll never abandon you.”
Sprinkle in some business advice: “You can’t get your validation from your sales calls because people reject you all day. You’ve gotta find your validation and self-esteem from loved ones or pets or whatever, religion.”

Finally, prompt your followers: “Share a picture of your dog in the comments.”

“The more personal it is, the more dramatic it is, as long as there’s inspiration and a lesson,” Mr. Nemo said, “That’s what I’ve seen most viral content be.”
posted by needled at 1:05 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]


To me it sounds like this is less about LinkedIn itself & more about how suddenly there was a communal need to barf a whole lot of feelings about what was going on in public & many found LinkedIn was a convenient place to do it for various reasons.

“Early in the pandemic, we started seeing content we really hadn’t seen before,” said Daniel Roth, a vice president and the editor in chief of LinkedIn. He said he noticed people posting about mental health, burnout and stress. “These were unusual posts for people where they were being much more vulnerable on LinkedIn,” he said.
It wasn’t as if no one had broached those topics on the site before but, Mr. Roth said, it was “nothing like the volume” that LinkedIn started seeing in the spring of 2020, and continued seeing over the next two years.


Personally that website gives me an active panic attack every time I look at it ("will I ever be able to feed myself again if I lose my job? Sources say: no") but Godspeed.
posted by bleep at 1:07 PM on September 19


I had an assistant once who I thought was basically lazy, always on their phone, had a weird habit of trying to interject at meetings with the other managers which was always awkward. A few weeks ago they were doing some yard work (yes, this was part of the job, don't @ me) and fell into a hole and expired. Since then I've noticed little things not getting done around the office and I realized, my god, I totally took them for granted. I was the lazy one. I wasn't fulfilling my job as a boss. Lesson learned.

Anyway: Job opening for a familiar in exciting New York City (ok, Staten Island), remote work NOT ok.
posted by gwint at 1:20 PM on September 19 [28 favorites]


He demonstrated his formula with news about the death of a hypothetical dog named Ralph.

“Personal story is Ralph died,” he said. “What’s the business lesson in this?”


if I were this guy's marketing consultant I'd say "please for the love of God choose an example that makes you sound less like a sociopath," then I'd charge him $500
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:26 PM on September 19 [18 favorites]


No no no every personal event should be tied back to business. “How can my personal disaster help capitalism?” is the question too few are asking.
posted by glaucon at 1:36 PM on September 19 [21 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of influencer culture in general, but I hate it the most on LinkedIn, because business influencers -- or, God forbid, "thought leaders" -- are so cringy and annoying. And so many of them have never had a job other than being a business influencer? And like, what can someone who has never had an actual job teach me about work? And I guess that's why so much LinkedIn influencer content is basically just regurgitated motivational nonsense.

The only thought you are leading me to is that you have no idea what you're talking about, Mr. Thought Leader.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:42 PM on September 19 [12 favorites]


Finally, prompt your followers: “Share a picture of your dog in the comments.”

I follow the Twitter of someone who, most every morning, posts 6-12 responses to various calls to action from engagement-hungry Twitter accounts.

I know her favorite eighties tv show, her favorite ttrpg, her favorite breed of dog, her favorite fictional pet, her favorite IPA, her favorite donut, her favorite buffy ep, her favorite Cincinnati Bengal, her favorite ice cream, her dream car, her favorite MLP, her fav&())65_'@_&-;/009(-_$:¥π×{¢€©™CARRIER LOST.

That's the future we got. Sound off into the void, citizens.

I have no point, I'm just despairing.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:43 PM on September 19 [11 favorites]


I dislike LinkedIn pretty thoroughly. Join up, it's fine for you to have to pay a membership to have access to jobs. Just like facebook monetizing friendship, but it's kind of hard to opt out if you have to work. Everything we do is accruing taxes, not to government, which has some accountability, but to corporations.

My Lawn, Get The Fuck Off It.
posted by theora55 at 2:05 PM on September 19 [10 favorites]


I haven’t looked at LinkedIn in ages, because it reminded me every single time that I should nudge a particular colleague to join my network. I knew the nudge would fail, because that colleague had died, from breast cancer, leaving behind young children.

If only I had been clued in to the viral-marketing ethos, I could have written the dead-dog sales-inspiration post about her social media ghost, and built my network by offending all of our mutual acquaintances.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:47 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


In theory there's no principle demanding that no personal material be posted on LinkedIn, but the motivational stuff people keep barfing onto their feeds literally makes me want to put my eyes out, and I would rather be dead than be someone for whom that constituted a personality.
posted by praemunire at 2:54 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


LinkedIn, like Facebook, is something that is infinitely better once it's in your personal rearview mirror.

...just, y'know, take two seconds out of the day, think to yourself "oh thank god I am not using that site anymore" and feel the wave of luxurious relief wash over you.

And then you can do it again the next day! It's genuinely a gift that keeps on giving.
posted by aramaic at 3:10 PM on September 19 [11 favorites]


I use Linkedin for a single, glorious purpose: when I'm fighting with some corporation, I search for anybody who works there and might have some power to help my case, and 'friend' them (or whatever that's called on linkedin). Then , when some of them automatically accept me, I use the connection to badger them about my problem.
I few years ago I bought my son a new cellphone, it was supposed to arrive a week before Christmas. Long, stupid story short: it didn't. Or by Christmas at all. I did manage to 'connect' with the company's head of sales, and sent him a long screed on Christmas day about how much he and his company sucked. We got the phone a few days later. I don't know if my actions helped, but it did make me feel better.
posted by signal at 4:16 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


I haven't searched for a job in fifteen years, and in a few weeks if everything goes well with my health, I'm going to have to go search for a job again.

I've been a bit nervous about that, but I really shouldn't be.

I should have been terrified. This sounds like something out of a nightmare. Be vulnerable and expose yourself to your employers to gain some advantage over other candidates? I'm not auditioning for BFFs, I just need a paycheck and freaking health insurance. I thought the personality tests were intrusive, this is absurd. How the hell did we let it get this bad? What's next, dramatic recitations? Are they going to want to do a little psychotherapy during the job interview, delve into our trauma a bit? Are they going to make us do a little dance?

I never thought I'd long for the days of the newspaper classified, but here we are.
posted by MrVisible at 4:18 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


And so many of them have never had a job other than being a business influencer? And like, what can someone who has never had an actual job teach me about work? And I guess that's why so much LinkedIn influencer content is basically just regurgitated motivational nonsense.

I remember when linkedin influencers figured out they could troll r/antiwork for clicks with articles like "oh no millennials your work ethic is teh suck! successdroids do not use their permanent record as toilet paper! repent!"

the antiworkers just kept falling for it over and over and over again.

no point, just despair.
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:19 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I am a contact with a man who uses Linkedin as what amounts to a personal blog. There's absolutely no attempt to connect what he writes with the world of work, it's just what he's doing, hobbies, opinions, interesting links, what would have been on any given blog c.2005. It's the most spectacularly powerful use of the platform and I admire it so much.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:33 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


a man who uses Linkedin as what amounts to a personal blog. But then I'd have to sign in to read the blog.
posted by theora55 at 5:37 PM on September 19


This feels not unrelated to the emails I get from the Harry & David/1-800-Flowers/Shari's Berries/you get the idea people. When the first one hit my inbox, I discussed it with a lot of friends and our conclusion was genuinely that they must have accidently sent the email to the customer list instead of an internal employee list. It was a in depth newsletter about depression in the workplace, redflag signs (including "dead eyes") and helpful hints from consultant psychologists. It was such an unexpected email to customers. But they keep coming on different mental health topics! Some of you all must also be receiving these, right? It's not that the advice and our resources aren't great, it's just that the source is quite strange.
posted by atomicstone at 5:58 PM on September 19


I use LinkedIn as a contact list so that I can keep track of ex-coworkers. You never know when you'll get laid-off or when your job gets so bad that you have to bail so it's handy to be able to contact people for jobs in a hurry.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


I haven’t been bothered (I keep thinking I should, but just don’t) to log in to linked in in almost 5 years. The last thing of significance I did on the site was block the horrible boss that ruined my old job that I had loved until he showed up. I got a little dopamine fix from that, but eh.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:03 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


One thing I haven't really heard mentioned that could be behind the changing dynamic is the job market.

We're in a historically good (in recent history, anyway) time to be an employee/worker/job-hunter; the odds are much further in your favor than they've been in a while. Depending on your age, potentially in your whole career.

There's stuff that flies now that probably wouldn't have been viewed as a safe post, if you were looking for work, even just 10-15 years ago. Some of that is cultural—tattoos, for instance, are a lot more mainstream now, as more Boomers have aged out and been replaced by a younger demographic—but some of it is due to the shifts in the balance of power.

You can get away with being much more honest about the shortcomings of a particular employer, for instance, or a bad manager, or just about the way you've been treated in the past. Most people try to at least not make themselves look bad when doing so (and if you're clever, you can make yourself look better for having realized how badly you were being treated, and thus presumably or explicitly state that you wouldn't do the same thing), but you can be pretty blunt without torching your employability.

This isn't just a LinkedIn thing, it's across whole industries (at least those I'm familiar with). There's a lot more emphasis within HR departments on the recruiting and "talent acquisition" angle, rather than on "performance management". There are defense contractors—not known, historically, for being warm-n-fuzzy places to work—with executive positions for "Culture Manager" and DE&I, and they're not just the pure ass-covering that those roles might have been in the 1990s.

I know there's no shortage of Critically Important Issues today, but one thing I think is underappreciated is the effect that the tightening of the labor market has had—and continues to have—on employer/employee relationships. At least if you've been in an industry that's avoided being offshored, it's been a pleasant surprise. And I really, really hope that we can muster the political will to ensure it continues, over the screeching of the ownership class that is only going to intensify.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:52 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]



I see a lot of complaints about "LinkedIn isn't Facebook" or "Keep politics off of LinkedIn" (lol) on posts that are about topics of oppression. I follow a bunch of people whose jobs are raising awareness about DEI, disability, and neurodiversity in the workplace, and the most vocal objections to the content are from people who are clearly interested in perpetuating their own privilege.


If you mean the privilege of saying truthfully "I performed a background search on the applicant, and deliberately avoided forums where candid discussion is common about things I should avoid finding out about the applicant", then yes, I am interested in perpetuating it. The lack of candor, the emphasis on self-marketing and presenting a facade, as far as I am concerned, is a feature, not a bug.

Goes to show I have not been on LinkedIn in a while, so I had no idea people were opening up about such things on LinkedIn, and I'm a little bit horrified that discussions of ND and disability are happening on LinkedIn, precisely because I am ND.
posted by ocschwar at 9:26 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]



In theory there's no principle demanding that no personal material be posted on LinkedIn, but the motivational stuff people keep barfing onto their feeds literally makes me want to put my eyes out, and I would rather be dead than be someone for whom that constituted a personality.


Oh, Ghods, so true. I code for a living, so the occasional Linked in post of "hi, everyone, look what I just added to my Github portfolio" suits me just fine. But the corporate coaching material, and managerial strategy opining, all that just puts people on my list to smile-nod-and-excuse-myself when I meet them for drinks.
posted by ocschwar at 9:29 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


LinkedIn is a globally-distributed lying competition.
posted by bookbook at 10:00 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Part of the effect of putting revealing personal things on LinkedIn will be better ideological alignment between employer and employee.

For example, the person alluded to above who identified herself as antivaxx will end up at a MAGA-friendly employer, which is a consummation ambivalently to be wished as a least-worst outcome in my opinion.

There was someone on MetaFilter a long time ago who left a secure public service job for an employer who I think mistook him for a three-percenter type based on his appearance and an interest in guns, but who was actually quite progressive

He was almost instantly fired and his previously stable and relatively happy life went into a tailspin and crashed. It was tragic and very disturbing. I’ve often thought that never would have happened if either he or his employer had known what they were getting into.
posted by jamjam at 10:57 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


posting on linkedin like it’s a normal social network is a good way of telling me you’re a weird little freak that i should definitely avoid any close contact with. my current and all my potential bosses are on there, and you think i should share my feelings? i’d be unemployable, which is only natural. if your inner self aligns with your corporation self so well that you can post on linkedin like it’s your old live journal you’re already lost
posted by dis_integration at 5:45 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


I’ve been using it to promote articles on my blog (or whatever it’s called these days) for two reasons:

1 Writing those articles and posting them is more or less ‘my job,’ really.

2 My followers on LN are pretty tightly curated by me and represent industry people likely to be interested in what I’m writing. More importantly, they are also likely to be followed by other industry people, which helps me extend my professional network.

I admit I’m probably subverting the primary purpose of LN. But yeah, OK. You’re not going to get me to use twitter or FB.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 8:24 AM on September 20


I hate the personal-type stuff and actively use the controls that allow me to say so. But LinkedIn helped me get a MUCH better job after being laid off, so I can't hate on it wholesale.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:54 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


As much as I dislike the personal stuff, I can mostly ignore it. The anti-vax, pro-trucker political stuff on the other hand, that sprang up during the pandemic, that's harder to skip by, especially since a whole pile of idiots were intent on repeating everything a certain politician running for party control had to say. I swear, promoting those stupid, dangerous ideas over a professional network just made me want to scream: "why are you doing this?" Sure, I get that a lot of people in an industry I have to engage with aren't of the same political stripe as I am, but I don't need that shoved in my face. It especially bothers me because I know if people on the other side of the political aisle did the same thing, these babies would be crying and wailing about how using a professional network like LI is inappropriate for those kinds of political screeds.

As for why I'm on LI or why I use LI, I can only say it's not my choice. A previous employer demanded that I create a profile and engage. My current employer has made "social media" including LI my responsibility. I don't necessarily like it, but it's better than handling the Facebook account.

Mostly, I use my account for connecting with people who have been ignoring my email and my phone calls and my "use our web form to contact us" attempts. It's another (sometimes) helpful tool for reaching people, but it's not perfect. I find that I've been doing more low-effort stuff--like liking people's comments. That seems to keep the machine happy, even if I don't think it really has any value.
posted by sardonyx at 10:23 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


I hate the personal-type stuff and actively use the controls that allow me to say so. But LinkedIn helped me get a MUCH better job after being laid off, so I can't hate on it wholesale.


LinkedIn started out with a user interface and experience that gently but actively discouraged disclosing on the site anything that would embarrass the user. If people are getting indiscreet on the site, it may be in Microsoft's interest to double up their effort and discourage that kind of thing. For all of Microsoft's flaws, their strategy of wanting your money, not your data, is pretty ideal.
posted by ocschwar at 10:56 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I check linkedin occasionally solely to note what's going on in the lives of old coworkers who I enjoyed working with, and every time I do I find that information and then an overwhelming deluge of absolutely demented rise-and-grind nonsense alongside some tired, baffling memes and some very tiny promotional echo chambers

to the extent I've noticed the trend in this article, as others here have noted, it's just being re-folded into linkedin's usual inanity. I cannot fathom the mindset it would take to use or digest this website non-cynically and so doubt that anyone actually does, even when discussing things like grief or burnout.
posted by Kybard at 12:08 PM on September 20


For years, I never logged in to LinkedIn because of all the reasons mentioned in this thread.

But then something changed - I had just attended a free webinar/debate on a topic that really interested me (generating hydrogen with renewable energy) and I added all the speakers, who were engineers and CEOs. The engineers in particular shared posts from other engineers, on similar topics. So whenever I saw something I found interesting I added the person who posted it.

But I was also brutal in blocking everybody who posted something I wasn't interested in. Not just offensive or unacceptable, just uninteresting. It's a bit tedious, but such aggressive blocking has actually shaped my feed into something great.

I now have a core of about ten engineers and energy analysts who are experts in their fields, and I follow only their posts. I also contribute things I find, and comment on the posts of these engineers. Now, somehow, my LinkedIn feed is actually GOOD. Unlike other platforms it doesn't seem to throw too much random rubbish my way, if anything it just keeps showing me old posts from the same small core of engineers/analysts I really engage with.

So if you really put the effort in, you can get LinkedIn to work as a kind of specialist-knowledge-community. You just have to absolutely smash that Block button.
posted by askmeaboutboardgames at 6:42 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


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