“How am I, a fresher, applying for an entry-level job supposed to have work experience of 5-7 years? Why does LinkedIn constantly throw at me the achievements of others, rather than opportunities for me? I scroll for 1 hour on LinkedIn, I feel anxious and horrible about myself for 1 week. This is where many would give me a motivational quote about networking and building your brand and how mental health is an excuse. Fuck that and fuck LinkedIn influencers, they’re so toxic!”, says Ishan Mondal, 22.
The first wave of the Pandemic, the ensuing lockdowns and remote work culture were quick to throw light on the toxicity of our workspaces and hyper-productivity culture that we believe we “thrived in”. Soon the realisation dawned that this “thriving” for most was synonymous with “burning out”. The internet flooded with articles about taking a step back, from work and other such commitments and getting in touch with your mind and body.
With more people talking about deteriorating mental health and lack of ethical work culture and burnouts, for a brief moment, one could almost believe that we were committed to making university and workspaces a bit more inclusive and accommodating. We were amidst an unprecedented pandemic after all!
In a poll where I asked people if they think whether LinkedIn has become toxic for many, out of the 150 people who took the poll, 81% people voted in affirmative.
Yet came the second wave and carried back with it all the toxic two cents on increasing productivity, a flurry of unpaid internships and LinkedIn influencers. A professional social media platform that was built with the purpose of helping people network and find jobs is now another avenue to set unrealistic standards, experience FOMO and guilt.
It is a direct reflection of the cut-throat competition and glorification of hustle-culture that doesn’t seem to pause even during a pandemic.
“The amount of “Ways to do things” or “Things you can learn from this”, opinions and suggestions are just too much. One person would be like “How can you sleep for more than 5 hours when you have dreams to fulfil?” and the other would be like “You should sleep for a minimum of 8 hours” and I’m like who is fact-checking?
For someone who believes in everyone’s individual powers, shouldn’t it be more like- you decide what you feel is right, you make your story. But instead, it is- ‘Top 20 things to do in your 20s’. And that’s it. That’s the pressure,” says Sneha Semaleesan, Bcom grad, R. A. Poddar College of Commerce and Economics.
Posts and conversations on LinkedIn are so devoid of social, economic and political context- it makes you compare your achievements and activities on absolute terms with those you are connected with, as though they exist in isolation. Not everyone has the capital to do those 20 things in their 2os, or to travel and learn about cultures to enhance their profile!
In a poll where I asked people if they feel the pressure to keep up to the standards of LinkedIn student influencers, out of the 156 people who took the poll, 67% people voted in affirmative.
While LinkedIn does provide a great space to connect with eminent people in your field, seek their mentorship and guidance, it also consists of thousands of ‘digital gurus’, and ‘branding coaches’ and ‘productivity invigorators’ who dish out content from no proven place of experience.
In a poll where I asked people if they scrolling through LinkedIn for hours every day leading to anxiety, out of the 226 people who took the poll, 89% people voted in affirmative.
“LinkedIn just makes me feel like abandoning my entire personality and striving for the most unattainable job. it is very easy to forget that people don’t have the same 24 hours when I go on LinkedIn, because everyone pretends like all their success only comes from working hard. There’s no scope for mental health or healthy conversation,” says Priyanka Srinivas, 20.
Talking about how students navigate through this crippling competition, Naina Atri of Lady Shri Ram College says, “I think it perfectly represents how competitive life is. There is very little space to try figuring stuff out. I think the individual gets lost in making the perfect profile. The moment you see Instagram Reels on how to get the best LinkedIn profile you already figure out that there’s a standard for what you should be.”
The toxic positivity in LinkedIn and how its culture encourages people to monetise on their personal struggles and losses is truly shocking! It’s important that we understand that everyone recovers from struggles at their own pace and that in no way is a reflection of how hard they work. Workspaces are made up of not just computers and technology, they’re sustained by people, who exist within the social and emotional context and operate with the capital they have!
No, you do not need to know “How to Appreciate Your Struggles” and “Rise above your mental health struggles”.
“Toxic positivity on LinkedIn is a real problem. Please stop normalising making big things happen through miseries and acknowledge the fact that everyone has their own pace to absorb things in life. Yes, it is in our hands how much information we want to consume. But somewhere you get influenced first and think later because that is how information dissemination works also the other side is the lethargy that all of this “content creator information” “unsolicited advice” carry. Even to stand out you have to choose to compete!” says Sneha on dealing with an overload of information on LinkedIn.
— Crap On LinkedIn (@CrapOnLinkedIn) October 6, 2020
“I think decreasing the social media aspect of LinkedIn would make things much better. There can be filters applied to the types of posts. So if I don’t want to be bombarded by “achievements” or “motivational quotes” all the time, I could just filter them out. also, LinkedIn should have a strict policy for filtering out unpaid internships targeted towards college students because less self-worth + overworking for no benefit posed as an opportunity is a very deadly combination!” adds Priyanka.
While we might be far from a concrete solution, acknowledging that there is a problem is always the first step in the right direction. There has to be a better and more discourse on how LinkedIn impacts mental health and what kind of toxic behavioural patterns we can refrain from engaging in while networking on LinkedIn.
The point here is to not censor or regulate the content that people wish to post. No, it is not a violation of Freedom of Speech. It’s just little steps we could take now to keep professional spaces inclusive and healthy!