This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shraddha Iyer. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The LinkedIn Fatigue: “I Scroll For 1 Hour, Feel Anxious About Myself For 1 Week”

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“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.

An Eye-Opening Guide To Getting Viral On Linkedin | by Gerard Compte Duran | Medium
Representative image only.

How Is LinkedIn’s Hustle Culture Impacting Students and Job Seekers?

The most susceptible preys to this hyper-productivity talent show on LinkedIn, are students and freshers, who’ve been thrust into the job market during one of the worst health and economic crisis we have ever faced.

“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.

“The entire narrative of creating a personal brand on LinkedIn because that’s what the recruiters are seeing is weird because recruiters get our resumes, and are interviewing us then why this additional pressure of building yourself on another platform. Recruiters should really just see how talented, committed and knowledgeable (if not, then how eager) the candidates are. The world that debates about the authenticity of a person behind a computer screen cannot use the same to employ them! ,” Sneha adds further.
Our behaviour on LinkedIn could be rooted in our general disregard for healthy work ethic and conversations on mental health. Even the little discourse on mental health on LinkedIn comes from those that are not qualified to preach or believe that “it is all in the mind”. Well, it is in the mind- but not in the way they think.

A Tale Of… Too Many Gurus and Coaches

With an overwhelming change in surroundings for many during the pandemic, ones’ biggest concern should not be the fear of missing out on LinkedIn- but it has become so for many students! A source of constant anxiety and guilt, the networking culture we have cultivated on LinkedIn has led to way too many people feeling way too little.
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.
How to build a personal brand on LinkedIn in 2020
Representative image only.
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.
So much content on LinkedIn is borne of the belief that people are not working hard enough, not working the right way, or in the right direction. It reduces people to numbers without social context- “5 ways in which you can increase your productivity”, “The 3-hour break you take today is going to cost you 3 job opportunities” or “How can you turn your hobbies into money”. Is lack of hard work the problem here, or the pitted competition culture?
“LinkedIn is a major highlight reel, so people like to put their best front because many companies ask for it, and people want to put their best front forward. But a lot of LinkedIn has also become spam, essentially? In the sense that it’s all pictures of some unethical billionaire with a “motivational quote” attached to it, I gain no working value from these types of posts.”

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.”

You Do Not Need To Look At The Silver Lining In What Has Caused You Trauma!

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.

Is There A Solution To This?

“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!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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