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    The Baffler5/10/1421 min
    10 reads7 comments
    The Baffler
    10 reads
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    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      Funny, true, very well-written.

      I have met Matt Cohler, a very early employee at Facebook (pre-Newsfeed) who started LinkedIn, and is now a big shot VC of the absolute highest order. His innovation, apparently, was figuring out ways to get people to use LinkedIn even when they weren’t job hunting, with features like endorsements, content, etc. In hindsight, those conversations seem so bizarre. They had nothing to do with building tools and tech that improved people’s lives. Winning is getting more people to use your product more often. That is all. That’s why these products are good for nothing except getting you hooked.

      Articles (and memories) like this make it crystal clear to me why the internet works the way it does. Nobody ever asked the simple question: But is this good for people? Does our product make people happier? Healthier? Anything? That’s not the point and never was the point.

      I’m proud to not be on LinkedIn. That’s my form of real leadership - demonstrating to the world that the impossible (ha!) is possible. (I’m only half kidding. Not having a LinkedIn account as an unproven technology entrepreneur is a gamble. It would be a different story if I was already rich and/or famous. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is why the world looks the way it does, and I’m hellbent on breaking that status quo - both the “faking it” part and the “making it” part. There’s a better way.)

      • thorgalle
        2 months ago

        Re: the article,

        You just end up talking to the sad sacks you already know. From this crushing realization, the paradoxes multiply on up through the social food chain: those who are at the top of the field are at this event only to entice paying attendees, soak up the speaking fees, and slip out the back door after politely declining the modest swag bag.

        I'm on LinkedIn the way I am on all social media: I scarcely visit, I rarely scroll through. But even with those limited impressions, the article feels outdated. I'm looking at LinkedIn as a historical artifact, through the lens of a writer who is very opinionated on "thought leadership", and who seems to mostly want to confirm his prejudice that LinkedIn is good for nothing, for no one.

        At least some things changed in 7 years since. Recruiters abound nowadays, to the point where I'd rather have less of them. And LinkedIn is more than the "perfect antidote to the inherent depression of the fruitless job search". In the same vein as other social media, I appreciate the occasional work-life update from an acquaintance. For example: hearing about the first published story from an acquaintance who interned as a journalist.

        The writer does wittily hold up a mirror against certain situations where I can't help but chuckle in agreement (the "slip out the back door" part of the quote above). But overall the article is too scathing, too generalizing for me. What if talking to a "sad sack" with the same ideas as you leads to something positive? Nowadays I wish I could talk to more sad sacks out in the real world.

        But is this good for people? Does our product make people happier? Healthier? Anything? That’s not the point and never was the point.

        I agree with the question. It is not the point right now, and it should be. Incumbent tech misses a holistic view on the human being and society. It doesn't fit us properly. The point is indeed to extract the most revenue with the least resistance, which leads to a reckless abuse of human psychology and gamed democracies. What Tristan is saying!

        But that doesn't mean that these platforms aren't good for anything. They need to be doing something valuable which attracts people in the first place. And keeps them in. All the toxic hooking won't work if there is no value to be found. Believe it or not, some relationships actually started through Tinder! And I guess that many job openings get filled through LinkedIn today. These platforms have become part of the fabric of society, and they have changed it. They have (big) problems but we can't go back in time. Only forward!

        very well-written.

        PS: also (overly?) literary. I had to look up: irksome, badgering, harried, noisome, rung (noun), mordant, gobbledygook, wan, anodyne, aphorism, peroration, grubby, marshal (verb), trenchant, snake-oil, dyspeptic

        • SEnkey
          2 months ago

          Excellent point. I am very guilty of calling things I don't find valuable useless - when their very existence proves they have some value. Facebook isn't my cup of tea, but for lots of people it is a connection and communication tool. I'm one of nine siblings and they all use facebook to message/group chat and keep up with each other. I check in once a week now via messenger. I'd much prefer a call, but I get the value of the platform - even if there are lots of other terrible things about it.

          My company uses linked in to do sales (don't hate!). They guys and gals in the sales department were telling me that it's one of their best tools for finding the right people. Instead of cold calling a dozen annoyed people to find the person who is actually excited about what we do (RPA), they get on linkedin and start with that person.

          So like you and others have said, not my cup of tea - but I see it has value.

          • thorgalle
            2 months ago

            Exactly this! I think each network has value in it, especially now when all is remote, and your network/friends/family are using these networks to share their lives. Calling is still so important, but before calling, why not check that person's social accounts? My brother is doing sports studies and I just checked his runs on Strava. People share in the hope of being listened to, I don't want to fully ignore that.

            I also like Instagram, or certain photographers on Instagram, who only post their work there. Enjoying the good from LinkedIn/Facebook/Instagram/... while avoiding the bad is something is so hard (because of the biz model & design of these platforms). But I think there are some rules of thumb one can follow:

            • avoid scrolling feeds: Nudge promised to help here, but the creator Louis unfortunately had to pursue another idea. Instead: intentionally look up profiles. I built a prototype for that some 3 years back.
            • don't be passive: the thing that makes feeds & social media so numbing over time is the mindless scrolling, tapping, variable rewards of seeing a nice post, scrolling, tapping, .... Break that cycle by going for quality over quantity. Open your acquaintance's account, the first one that pops up in the feed. Consider deeply what they say. Leave a comment. With other words: connect.

            And the point about LinkedIn & cold calling makes sense! These networks (and CRM technology, marketing automation in general) allow companies to find worthwile leads more efficiently. Approach massive audiences online, automatically filter out the ones that you really want to talk to. Don't waste time on the rest. That's how my company pitches it :)

            PS1: I appreciate people reading my massive replies on Readup. PS2: Readup is a good exercise for connecting online!

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          2 months ago

          I like your comment a lot more than my comment.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeReading streakScout
      2 months ago

      Super interesting spectrum of comments on this one already! I thought the article was pretty hilarious, but I feel like that's a little easier to achieve when you're being hyper-cynical. I'm a fan of that style of writing in general though, or at least I'm not usually turned off by it.

      I never had a LinkedIn account and kind of prided myself on that but I created one about a week ago because @thorgalle told me I had to. I think the only way to really lose is to give too much of a shit about a site like LinkedIn either way; by assigning too much value to it or thinking you're special for abstaining from it.

    • Alexa2 months ago

      Pretty interesting. Seems like a lot of the issue is not just LinkedIn itself, but the banal theater of pretending like we're adult business-people in an online forum. It's not just the model of LI, but the outcome of a pool of people marketing themselves and being gross car-salesmen cliches at it

      Wish a space helped train/encourage people to BE HUMAN and to interact authentically and do work that matters, share without expecting back, and just nope on self-proclaimed influencers, as a whole.

      1. Update (2/24/2021):

        *Wish a space existed that helped... [all those SAT words and I reply with crap English, HA!)