Satire | The real villain is Linkedin

By Paige Wasserman, Senior Staff Columnist

It’s no secret that social media can really put a damper on mental health. The shiny mirages people flash on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can be catalysts for low self-esteem, body image issues and the fear of missing out — FOMO — among social media users. As a result, our silly little lizard brains are subject to viewing carefully curated versions of people’s lives, which makes us normal people all feel like garbage.


Many people blame the aforementioned social networking sites as the main culprits of our society’s ills, but they fail to address the true villain — Linkedin.


Sure, Linkedin doesn’t feature perfectly manicured hands clutching a $9 coffee, a marriage proposal adorned with roses or a pricey tropical vacation. However, it taps into young people’s desperation for what feels almost unattainable these days — employment.


I open my hellish blue and white app occasionally, and when I do, I’m immediately inundated with other people’s successes. “Guy who bullied you in high school just signed his offer at IBM!” “Camp friend you don’t talk to anymore interned at Nickelodeon!” These notifications are frequently supplemented by pretentious, insufferable musings about dedication and hard work and growing and learning and changing and evolving and innovating and OH MY GOD SHUT UP!


If I’ve ever seen you butt-chug a Natty Lite in someone’s basement, you are legally barred from using any of the following words: honored, humbled, grateful, thrilled, signed, offer, etc.


The stories I see on Linkedin are so ridiculous that they belong in an anthology entitled “Sh*t that Never Happened.” They always go something like this: “This morning, after waking up at 6 and lifting in the gym in my apartment because yes, my apartment complex HAS A GYM AND A POOL AND IN-UNIT LAUNDRY, I ventured out to Fi-Di for another glorious day of typing things into an Excel spreadsheet at Goldman-Morgan-Google-MSNBC-Build-a-Bear Inc. and on my way to work, I encountered a homeless man. 


He asked, ‘Can you spare me some change?’ but I didn’t have any cash. I wondered, What can I give this man that’s more valuable than a crisp $20 bill? So into his slimy, sweaty, poor little hands, I dropped my book, ‘How to Make Racks on Racks on Racks’ with a foreword from Malcolm Gladwell and Joe Rogan. I told him, ‘It’s one thing to have a dollar, but it’s another thing to turn that dollar into $2, and turn those two dollars into $10 and to keep doing that until you can afford a countertop dishwasher for your high-rise apartment.’ 


With tears in his eyes, he clutched my words to his chest, thanking me profusely. In that moment, I felt honored and humbled and grateful and blessed and also honored to be giving someone the tools they need to move mountains.”


To be candid, it’s really hard to be on Linkedin as a creative. Seeing STEM and business people –– characters like the people who cheated off my tests in high school and college –– land lucrative jobs immediately post-grad is really demoralizing. 


You might be thinking, “You’re just bitter,” and of course I am. Sure, we creatives choose our paths because we love our disciplines, not for money. Still, the job pools for tech, medicine and business are ever-growing in contrast with a creative space riddled with mass lay-offs from companies like Netflix and Gannett. Not to mention, we’re experiencing a huge increase in rescinded job offers — on the topic of which, if I were about to graduate and my dream job rescinded my offer, I would become the Joker. 


All of this is to say that the landscape for soon-to-be graduates, especially creatives, is really grim, and watching people I hate parade their achievements across my Macbook screen is torture. 


I’d like to have a very serious chat with whoever at Linkedin decided to detail the analytics of job postings. I get to see that 500 people have already applied to this role. And when I see stats like that, I just want to cry, throw my iPad from the 25th floor of Cathy and throw in the towel.


As 22 year-olds, we’re supposed to have completed a corporate internship, won awards, volunteered for the Peace Corps and sung in a Jimmy Buffett-themed a cappella group in four short years, all while maintaining at least a 3.75 GPA. And unless you have socioeconomic privilege, connections and ample time to dissect every word of your cover letter, you’re just another carrot in the 500-person Linkedin stew. So either enjoy the garbage disposal or shill every last fiber of your being not to capitalism, but to merely the prospect of participating in it! Huzzah!


It’s really ludicrous how I was technically brought into this world to gather berries and leaves for my young. Instead, I have no children, I can only afford to buy a frozen berry mix from Aldi and I have to spend hours of my life hiring headshot photographers for my Linkedin, finding the perfect words to describe my experiences on Linkedin, and searching for jobs on Linkedin. And, like clockwork, Linkedin will provide me with eight entry-level job postings that require 5+ years of experience. 


Sorry, Linkedin, but I wasn’t working in marketing when I was 17 years old. I was making out with boys who looked like they didn’t know how to read and crying to my English teacher.


The stuffiness of Linkedin feels inauthentic, too. With Kombucha on tap, gummy bear dispensers and mini dog parks, work spaces are becoming more casual and friendly. Still, Linkedin remains a stuffy professional soapbox for the annoying. It feels entirely antithetical to the world we’re trying to build.


Am I still going to use Linkedin? Yes. I feel like I have to. However, I think a lot of us could benefit from cutting through the noise of toxic comparisons. Remember that social media isn’t real, and that most people don’t show the behind-the-scenes. Onward and upward we go!

Paige Wasserman (she/her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture and things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [email protected].