We hear it again and again: social media is dangerous.
Our Facebook and Instagram are the highlights of our lives, and it’s supposed to be the worst.
But when it comes to social media use and mental health, LinkedIn might be more insidious than the rest, especially in today’s “busy” culture, where being busy equals success.
The employment platform is a space for professional networking and a database of candidates for employers. It also happens to be the perfect platform to follow — not just peers, potential employers, or competition within the industry — but if your ex-boyfriend ended up getting that promotion (or, if you have free time, what your current boyfriend’s exes are up to and how you compare). Few things induce more anxiety than an old high school acquaintance who has completed about 12 more internships than you.
Using LinkedIn can cause us to experience hyperactive and unusual enthusiasm, social and extracurricular overreach, and academic distress. They also appreciate phrases such as “Congratulations, Julie”, “Love your work”, “So happy to communicate with you” and “I had a great time today expressing my passion for vertical growth and synergy”. Many have mastered the art of seamlessly integrating LinkedIn’s top 20 buzzwords into a perfect profile summary — likely because they all went to the same on-campus workshop.
Of course, there are risks that come with using social media: cyberbullying, hacking, identity theft, and inappropriate use of data. Then there are more subversive ones like anxiety, loneliness and unhappiness.
Just like Instagram tells us we’re missing something, LinkedIn tells us we’re not doing enough. Photo-sharing platforms can make us feel like we’re not attractive or fun enough, but resume-sharing platforms can make us feel like we’re not smart enough or not successful enough, and these are attributes that have been taught to us.
It’s also difficult to approach LinkedIn the way we’re encouraged to approach other social platforms. We are expected to avoid synthetic relationships and be honest, or at least try to be, about how we present ourselves and interact with others online.
“Networking makes us feel dirty,” contributing writer Adam Grant said in a New York Times article, “so much so that one study found people rate soap and toothpaste 19% more positively after s to be imagined trying to make business contacts over a cocktail party. ”
Although LinkedIn has done a great job of connecting people in a professional way, these relationships often feel more transactional than genuine. The chilling reality is that the more we rely on apps to forge or maintain connections, the easier it becomes to reduce people to their online presence. We have become our Twitter feeds, our Facebook profiles and our LinkedIn resumes. And we are constantly evaluating each other and ourselves.
LinkedIn is undoubtedly a powerful tool for connecting and exploring career opportunities and it is certainly worth taking advantage of. Remember to log in with caution, stalk responsibly, manage your consumption, and consume intentionally.
Anna Fiorino is a graduate in journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @annafi0.