As much as I despise social media with all my heart and soul, I’d be hard-pressed to argue that it doesn’t offer a decent measurement of where human civilisation’s at. Because where we’re at isn’t great, I’d probably be the one making the case. Without over-analysing your niece’s recent foray into TikTok, or even yours, or how much time I consume watching other people’s cats groom themselves, we’re in a sorry state. Too often, a person with half-decent internet access is an aggressor or harasser, and somewhere on the horizon, an outspoken billionaire is riding a rocket into all remaining propriety — so that said person can aggress and harass some more. I sometimes wonder what happened to all the good times, when good manners were a core feature on Twitter, when three or four people in this country had Facebook, and it was but a massive, shapeless void into which random internet ramblers went: “Hello? Is anyone actually there?” I missed when LinkedIn used to be a place you just went to look for a change of scenery.
And this is where you come in.
I logged into LinkedIn the other day — okay, I lie, it was five minutes ago — because that particular app is a tireless temptress. Constantly swearing it has something important to say when it turns out it’s only you: informing everyone your life is amazing, that you are moving up in the world, or that it’s such a blessing to happen upon such and such morsel of common sense. There are no good old days to remember on LinkedIn because it was always a poorly designed CV that you have now appropriated into a sophisticated selfie machine; where you can link your need to self-portray to an announcement of privilege; a promotion, a profit, a raise, that capitalism is not simultaneously gifting us all.
Can you imagine what it’d be like to sit around your social graph, just your LinkedIn one, at a dinner table? Gawd.
“Hey, I got my master’s degree the other day! Look at my face!”
“Hey, I happened upon this amazing quote by Bill Gates/Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk/Tim Cook/An Insanely Wealthy White Man that may or may not apply to your current work situation. Look at my face!”
“Hey, let’s check if this thing that’s trending on Facebook — eg. Will Smith assaulting Chris Rock at the Oscars — has any corporate or professional value here on LinkedIn. (Look at my face?).”
“Hey, I just landed this amazing job, and it’s quite clear I’m landing an equally amazing promotion in no time at all. Look at my faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!”
Let’s get a few things clear:
• If I actually wanted to read quotes from Insanely Wealthy White Men, I’d read their biographies, and there’s a reason I haven’t ordered those. I prefer books that contain witty people, talking foxes, and tycoons with real fangs.
• When you take a selfie that helps objectify your presence on a platform packaged as ‘professional’, it’s not dissimilar to slipping into my DMs on a platform packaged as ‘professional’.
• If you’re going to share things anyway (memes with career advice that contain quotes by Insanely Wealthy White Men), could you at least make sure the pixelation’s on point? Low-grade images and videos make my eyes tear up and prompt me to shake my phone — in an attempt to shift around the metadata, I guess, the way one might shift around the cells in a bottle of Minute Maid.
• Instead of taking another selfie or carefully orchestrated portrait, what if you slyly wrote a three-paragraph dig at your boss or one of your co-workers and disguised the whole thing as ‘thought leadership? Now that I’d read, even if there weren’t any talking foxes.
Oh, and, um, Team LinkedIn: could you make it so that I don’t have to go on treasure hunts for my ‘Saved Items’ when I save a groovy news item, and could you maybe tell me how long this or that stranger stared vacantly at my profile for?
I’ll see you all on the other side.
Chola Chisengalumbwe is collecting one hundred at www.thegrab.net