What do you need to do when an online platform intended for professional networking and growing your career turns into a nuance to your everyday life?
You need to cut it.
My disdain for social media continues to grow more and more each day. I am completely, albeit a bit alarmingly, obsessed with the idea of living a social media free life. It is a personal revolution to opt out, to actively choose to check out from ‘the noise’ of online platforms and cultivate life on one’s own terms.
After deleting my Facebook account back in 2012, my Instagram and Snapchat in 2013, and my Twitter account in 2017, LinkedIn was my last standing social media account until very recently.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 562 million users in more than 200 countries worldwide. LinkedIn did not become nuance for a while after joining the platform a few years back, mainly because I was too busy curating 140-character tweets to pay much attention to networking and career advancement opportunities.
After I quit Twitter, at the end of my graduate studies, I started to get serious about my future and turned my attention to LinkedIn, which promised to connect me to the world’s professionals to make me more productive and successful.
I spent a good amount of time setting up my profile so it looked professional. I read countless articles on tips and tricks to makes your LinkedIn profile stand out to potential employers. I updated my summary page, added a description for each work and volunteer experiences I had listed, and even added some certifications I received. I wanted my LinkedIn profile to show that I was a career-minded, passionate, and productive individual.
Soon after setting up my LinkedIn profile, and following enough people to cultivate a decent home feed, however, I found myself spending more and more time on the app. I found myself increasingly preoccupied with what to post so I was active on the website, and most importantly, it ‘virtual signaled’ to my followers that I was a passionate, productive, and professional individual. I was also careful to what to like and share, more accurately, whose content to like and share. It was satisfying to look at my profile and liked the ideal professional subject that I curated online.
Even more so, I found myself longing for the rush one gets from the social validations of likes and comments. I got a rush of excitement at the red notification icon signaling someone liked my post, a fleeting, but gratifying feeling. It made me feel important, that someone took the time to let me know they liked my shyt. This, surely, must be a form of mild narcissism, but I digress.
What began as a way to curate a professional image and career opportunities soon turned into a slight addiction. I found myself obsessively opening and refreshing my homepage in the hopes of finding something mildly interesting to like and share, to see how many views my posts were getting, and whether I had any new followers or likes and comments. I was compulsively visiting the LinkedIn homepage, and most of the time I didn’t even know what I was looking to achieve. I just needed a distraction from all the more important things I was avoiding doing.
For a while, I justified it because of the professionalism nature of the platform. Most of the content on LinkedIn was related to career development and networking opportunities, such as job postings, events, and other useful information people shared. I told myself I was creating opportunities to network with people in my career field and make myself marketable to potential employers, which was, of course, only partially true.
Soon after, I realized LinkedIn too was just another form of distraction from real life, a way to avoid the discomfort and uncertainty of immersing ourselves in the real world, of pursuing worthwhile activities that we can potentially fail at.
The catalyst for deleting my account was, however, the annoyance and/or anxiousness I would feel at some of the contents shared on my newsfeed, what I refer to as “the noise.” I would wake up, open the LinkedIn app, and scroll through my newsfeed just to feel dread at the state of the world. This was the main reason I decided to quit Twitter; I could not deal with being bombarded by negative and outrageous news every day of my waking life, especially when all I could do was retweet it. Add to that the number of people on any given online platform, and “the noise” becomes extremely deafening.
So, I decided to opt-out, once again, from the noise of social media. I wanted to reclaim my time and attention. There were, indeed, some opportunities that arise from LinkedIn, but it was no longer worth the attention and time it cost me. It now feels good to wake up every morning and not get aggravated by “the noise” from scrolling through my newsfeed. Instead, I am left with my own thoughts and feelings, but I no longer desire to be distracted from them.
Well, I lied.
*I did make a duplicate of my previous LinkedIn profile that functions purely as an online resume, with no followers and newsfeed to waste time on chasing instant gratification and validation from virtual people.
I haven’t logged in since I set it up a couple months back, but I do plan on logging back in if I need to update my resume. Until then, I’m enjoying a newsfeed-free morning filled with silence, contemplation, and boredom.