I’m an old hand at this. I’ve been connected for more than half of my life, thanks to some quality time spent trolling AOL chatrooms, typing my teen angst away on Livejournal, and blankly staring at friend requests from strangers on Friendster and old Myspace.
I’ve been plugged in—in one way or another—since 1997. After dedicating 16 years of my life, and the entirety of my career, to this bad boy, it’s safe to I can tolerate pretty much anything when it comes to social media.
I’ve built a thick skin, slowly but surely, out of baby pictures and #YOLOs and #TBTs and auto-DMs and Farmville requests. I’ve weathered innumerable elections, national controversies, religious debates, fights between friends—all online and all without batting a lash.
I know how to ward off spambots and pornbots and elderly relatives who like to write cryptic, indecipherable messages on your wall. An entire history of failed relationships are still skulking around in untagged pictures, accounts with long-forgotten passwords and Livejournal entries splashed with tears.
And I’m cool with that.
I’m OK with knowing, in excruciating detail, the entire sexual history of this one girl I met at this one party seven years ago who drank all the Smirnoff Ice and passed out on the couch. I’ve come to terms with Twitter accounts, 40,000 followers-strong and wanting to connect with me for no apparent reason.
I’ve seen memes come and go, endless reshares of George Takei’s Facebook posts, #teamfollowback accounts follow, unfollow, and re-follow me in a vicious, never-ending cycle. I don’t mind that same Funfetti dip recipe being shared literally thousands of times on my Pinterest feed, because it looks delicious and I keep meaning to make it.
So, 16 years of online activity makes me impervious to anything and everything about social media? Right? Wrong.
Because of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, you are doing it wrong.
This is my open letter to you, LinkedIn, and I hope you learn something from it.
Logging into LinkedIn, the Internet’s largest professional networking platform, is like opening a can of worms. Every single time. It’s an experience that is quite unlike any other—simultaneously terrifying and hilarious. It is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous experience a human being can have on the Internet.
Every time I log in to my LinkedIn account, I cross my fingers and hope that maybe, just maybe, I won’t encounter the same dude from Australia who’s creeped my profile every month for a year without ever sending a request to connect. Not that I’d accept; I’d just like to know what it is about my profile that compels him to revisit it monthly.
Have I met you? No? Well, then, why are you sending me a message asking me to endorse you? What are you possibly good at besides finding strangers and asking them to make a blind professional recommendation on your behalf? Is “psychic” one of the skills listed on my LinkedIn? Nope, I don’t see it there, but—oh wait, a vision is coming to me, you are endorsing me for my psychic powers right this very second. I knew it all along.
No, you are not a social media guru, jedi, rock star, wizard, ninja, or princess. God help me if you truly are the daughter of their royal highnesses the King and Queen of Social Media or a Padawan with a really tight startup idea, but chances are, you’re not. You are a manager, a strategist, an analyst, a professional. Act like it.
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I do not want to scroll through a seemingly never-ending list of your entire work history. Do you want me putting a thoroughly detailed job description of that summer I worked at the Texas City Movies 12? When I worked at Blockbuster? Those inconsequential jobs that have no bearing on my current professional life? No? Didn’t think so.
Stop writing your LinkedIn profile in third person. What, did you hire someone to write it for you? I mean, ain’t nobody got time for a lot of things, but you have time to write a biography about yourself, right? If being on Facebook for eight years has taught me anything, it’s that people love writing about themselves. In first person. (If you have time to copy and paste your last speaking engagement bio onto your LinkedIn profile, you’ve got time to switch up the POV. Come on.)
LinkedIn, quit trying to get me in trouble. I love my job. What makes you think I’m ready to jet out the door? No, I do not want to work at Child’s Play or pack up my husband and cat and book it to Des Moines. No, thanks, I love my life, my job, Houston. You’re being messy, and I don’t like it.
LinkedIn, you should be a place of authentic conversation, connections, and endorsements. You should be a haven for reliable, honest information and a place where professionals can expand a network in organic, respectable ways. I say “no more” to “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” and forced endorsements from complete and utter strangers, “no more” to all those Twitter ninjas and SEO junkies, “no more” to the “Taylor’s bible is the AP Stylebook.” lurking around in third person in any more biographies.
LinkedIn, you’ve been around for more than a decade. If you’re ever going to want my endorsement, it’s time to shape up or ship out.
Taylor Grobelny is a social media strategist at The Black Sheep Agency, a Houston-based creative agency specializing in non-traditional public relations, social media, and experiential marketing. Check out their blog, where a version of this story originally appeared.