Apart from ruining the words “algorithm” and “viral” for me forever, managing corporate social media accounts has made me hate LinkedIn – the supposed platform for professionals and businesses to network and put their best face forward.
More specifically, it’s made me hate the special breed of influencer that lives on LinkedIn: the LinkedInfluencer.
The LinkedInfluencer: Who Are They
LinkedInfluencer: a social media influencer whose primary platform is LinkedIn. Those whose every other post is a humblebrag, rooted in hustle culture, who subscribe to that “if I can do it, so can you” mentality – disregarding that their upbringing came with all the privilege in the world.
If you’ve been on LinkedIn, you’ve probably run into them before.
They’re those people in your network obsessed with painting themselves as the most professional professional who’s ever professionaled. And, most importantly, they achieved everything you wish you could in life, but they did it all by themselves, through their hard work and dedication (and absolutely nothing else, they swear).
Let’s break down just why they’re the worst.
The LinkedInfluencer lives for inspirational stories.
Stories where the underdog loses everything but ends up coming out on top. Stories where an employee teaches a boss a lesson in humility – with them being the boss in question, of course. Stories that make 90s sports movies seem grim in comparison.
If you’re not in the position to leverage a socioeconomic systemic disadvantage, don’t worry, there’s always a way. I’ve seen people take the most selfish business successes and weasel in an Anne Frank quote just to (try to) trick their audience into being inspired.
And if all else fails, just make some shit up about a job candidate with no qualifications whatsoever becoming a superstar CEO because they understood the true value of hard work.
That always works.
#Grateful #Humble #Blessed
Humblebragging, the act of pretending to say something self-deprecating or humble that actually highlights a success, is all over LinkedIn. There are two flavors of humblebrag: the one where you show off how much money you’re making and the one where you show off how good of a person you are.
The first one is pretty easy to spot. Some common ones?
- The “oh, I didn’t realize the keys to my expensive car were in the shot”.
- The “oops, didn’t mean to share a close-up of my designer luggage”.
- The “very casual shot of my everyday life in my enormous house”.
The second one is more insidious. These posts hold a dual function of telling you they’re a good person while humanizing them by celebrating they do regular activities too.
Common tactics to look out for:
- The “good” parent post. Some people just go for the age-old adage that everybody likes children. These posts generally talk about how they spent time with their child for the first time in months and realized that spending time with them reminded them they loved them – or that they existed at all.
- The good Samaritan post. If you hand a person in need money and don’t tell your LinkedIn network about it, did you even help them at all? According to a certain subset of humans, the answer is a resounding no.
- The eco-warrior. Particular egregious when it’s happening outside the sustainability industry. I’ve seen people working for highly polluting companies decide they were the beacons of information the public needs when it comes to sustainability tips. Turns out, you can make “taking the train to work instead of driving” a whole personality trait!
When it comes to the humblebrag, it always feels a little bit too uncomfortably personal. Somewhere along the line, people have forgotten that Facebook and Instagram exist. NB: Your veiled excuse to brag about how great you are might not be appreciated by the people who already put up with you in your daily work life.
Pair one of these posts with the insufferable zest of hustle culture, and you’re on your way to becoming a true LinkedInfluencer.
Hustle culture 5ever (5ever, because it’s more than 4ever)
The cult of “rise and grind” is aaaaaaaall over LinkedIn.
If you’re waking up at 5, well, they’re waking up at 4. If you’ve been reading a book a week, well, they’ve been reading 3 books a day. And if you’re happy with your life because you’ve achieved some semblance of work/life balance that’s good for your health? Well, sheep, if you’re not pushing yourself to your breaking point and alienating your loved ones, then why even work at all?
It’s a one-size-fits-all culture of guilt and shame disguised as celebrating and perpetuating a good work ethic, with a supposed steadfast formula to success. When at its most toxic, this mentality assumes that the only way to be successful is for you to approach every challenge like you’re a white finance bro or girl boss with a rich daddy. And if you fail at that, it’s all on you.
The promotion of no-excuses hustle culture while simultaneously spouting incessant inspirational stories about giving people a chance, is just one of the oxymorons of the LinkedInfluencer.
Hello, Captain Obvious
LinkedInfluencers love posting about ideas that are obvious to everybody but that they think are groundbreaking. While other influencers, like YouTubers, strive for relatability, LinkedInfluencers strive for uniqueness – or as they call it, a personal brand. They need to believe they can provide a one-of-a-kind perspective on every topic.
They’ll write posts and articles about their journey to success and learnings along the way even if it doesn’t matter that nobody asked them for any of it. The more jargon and buzzwords they can add into the mix, the better. After all, we’re on a professional platform, where the more people you alienate, the more of a high-achieving entrepreneur you are.
In reality, half of the time these posts read like a college student whose paper is due in an hour and still needs 800 words to reach the word limit. The other half of the time it feels like you’re reading some finance bro or girlboss’ half-baked slam poetry.
At the end of the day, the goal is to inspire others in the most self-serving way possible in an effort to feel important.
But just how are you going to convince others to engage with the half-baked post you just posted? Luckily, LinkedIn convention states there’s a perfect, one-word question to instigate discussion: “Thoughts?”
Every time I see a post end in “Thoughts?”, a little part of me dies. While I am not opposed to hearing or sharing thoughts overall – my very blog section is titled THOUGHTS – the way that this question is used is always just a low-effort way to try to game the algorithm into thinking your post is more interesting than it is.
The worst? When people repeatedly post a statement that nobody would deny, followed by “Thoughts?”.
“[Insert your profession here] is underrated. Thoughts?”.
“You should be paid more if you work more. Thoughts??“.
“Child slavery is bad and we shouldn’t bring it back. Thoughts???“.
I’m not against working hard.
I’m not against trying your best or giving people a chance or generating thought-provoking discussions with other specialists in your professional sphere.
What I’m against is low-effort, bullshit content that just propels the myth that if you just work really really hard, guys, you can do anything you want because you’re the only one setting yourself back. I’m against perpetuating the myth of being self-made, without acknowledging that you were able to afford doing unpaid internships (or even worse – rely on the work of unpaid interns) in a city with a ridiculous cost of living. I’m against pretending everybody has the same hours in the day, when some people are struggling because they need to take a second job, or are responsible for their household, or need those hours to recover, because they’re struggling with illness – mental or physical.
I’m against people being ego-inflating unoriginal dicks blinded to their own privilege acting like they’re inspirational thought leaders and underdogs.
Before I forget to ask…
ψ Ť̷̢̨͔̹̲̂Ḧ̶̙̠̱́̊̑ͅO̴̢̟͖͒͛́͆̍U̶̺̟̩͐̄̾̀͝G̶̨̩͎̈̂͒̕H̶̟̪͌͋T̶̜̩̩̋͘S̴̙͉̦̼̄̔?̵̖̘̤̝͊̒̃́͜͠ ⛥
Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.