So I woke up at 3:45am and absolutely could not fall asleep. In fact, I'd convinced my husband that it was probably closer to 6am because why else would I be awake? Boy was I wrong. After some tossing and turning, I decided to follow his tried and true insomnia advice and not ignore it. I was awake. And I found myself scrolling through LinkedIn.
For a recently retired HR professional such as myself, this is actually not that weird, scrolling through the articles and updates. After all, I have contributed a lot of posts, been thanked behind the scenes by many, and connected with thousands over the years (although never accepting anyone blindly). Yet in recent years I've watched my reaction to the site evolve from mild annoyance to outright pissedoffedness. I have been repulsed by Facebook and Instagram for years and, over the last year and a half, have felt a similar repulsion creeping over me with LinkedIn, and knew for the past few months that this was coming.
Why? The lack of leadership that comes from the top down at the Microsoft-owned company that is seeing more and more people finally walk away from it all, realizing that there are decisions being made every day in the company that allow the platform to look like it does, and learning that, like my husband did, my life is not actually going to implode if I don't have an account with them. Like with the terrifyingly dangerous social media company that is fawned all over by apathetic people and organizations all over the globe who apparently don't care about their own association with the company, LinkedIn is also echoing the priorities of profits over positivity (coincidentally very well articulated by the FB Whistleblower in her 60 Minutes interview I caught about 15 hours later...), of lies over truth, of propaganda articles over objective writing. LinkedIn has "Editors" who write slanted pieces that are just thinly veiled ads for "experts" who, if you look at the SME's profile, show zero expertise in that profession/industry/etc. They have a majority young white male tech support staff who has been called out in the media for their racism, who have a longstanding reputation for doing nothing about the ever-building misinformation, racism, misogyny and other forms of hate speech that run rampant in their feed. It's a site that refuses to acknowledge the diversity of the workforce, sidles up to their fellow big tech companies to lay blame on the workforce and take zero accountability for the actions of themselves and those around them who have been making billions while regular folks are struggling to even stay afloat. It's a site that refuses to stand up for women's reproductive freedom while simultaneously cheering on the "success" of the state that has imprisoned the uteruses of millions of women. The majority of those who reach out to "connect" are spammers or supposed "business coach" types who talk down to me telling me how much I need them.
So I first started to cut back, right? Well just like any bad habit, it doesn't work, not if you're being honest with yourselves. I cut my contacts from 3,500+ to just over 100 to start. I mean, if I don't know them or only met them once years ago or the connection just doesn't serve my purpose anymore as a working stiff, do I really need to be connected - particularly if there hasn't been any type of authentic communication going on in years? When you've had the account for 14 years, you know who you truly know on there, and you know there are some folks you'll never speak to again. And you know that if it's not a mutually beneficial relationship, that perhaps it might be time to cut some cords. The ironic thing I learned when trimming down my contacts list is the number who would pretty quickly then invite me to reconnect...without as much as a note, and the same folks who were literally unresponsive to my attempts to chat in the past. One even accused me of "unfriending" her even though we literally had not spoken in over seven years. Is that friendship? Is there any professional connection after that long? To me, notsomuch. And I explained it as such, as when you get to a certain point in your life, you don't feel the need to soften anything or apologize.
And yeah, so at 3:45am I put together a quick paragraph, sent it to my remaining contacts and made sure they had my email address, and left it at that. I then copied and pasted all my data from the profile page and...voila, I closed my account and guess what?
I feel BETTER. So much better. It's not a platform that suits me anymore, nor with the direction I'm going in my life. Sure I've read the occasional article that I'd ordinarily share on that platform, but now? I bookmark it for future content right here on this blog, refocusing even more on the writing that keeps me whole.
With that, these small but resolute steps to embrace more analog and not be afraid to audit the practices that have become so commonplace that I don't think about them. I'm done with LinkedIn. And now, as I continue on in this sabbatical, I have more unspoken things rolling about in my brain to examine and see if changes need to be made there as well.
But for now? I'm exhaling. And enjoying one of the last sunrises from my front porch here on the farm.
"We have got to learn to unplug and put the internet back in its box. Stamp it with an “occasional use only” label. Start filling our lives with “real world” connections, activities, and solutions...Using the internet–judiciously–fits with how I want to live my life. But analog living is something I want to cherish, and it pays to reevaluate my digital vs analog practices from time to time."
~ from the blog, Richly Rooted