LinkedIn: Beneficial or Toxic?

Growing up in a competitive school district, I have become very accustomed to the unceasing worry of not doing enough when it comes to academic projects and extracurricular activities. The incessant talk and comparing of high school summer classes and officer positions already elicited perpetual self-doubt in itself. However, with college has come an even more public and permanent way to let others know how far you have come in achieving career goals or saving the world. LinkedIn, the central platform for networking and getting the attention of potential employers, is the online tool that I am constantly told is a necessity for entering the workforce and securing the internships that I want. Nonetheless, a year and a half into being an active member on the site, I am still struggling with whether LinkedIn culture is worth the strain on my mental health. 

overhead view of a woman sitting in front of her laptop Photo by energepic.com from Pexels Although I, personally, have not found an internship directly through LinkedIn, I can see what entices so many people my age to the service. It is the ultimate way for a student or employee to both list out every accomplishment without coming off as overtly-arrogant and to keep up with what peers and colleagues have done and will be doing in the future. Every person that I have met in a professional setting can be connected with on LinkedIn, creating an array of contacts that I can reach out to at any time for references or help with finding a position. After a short while on the platform, it can become very easy to get into the mindset of needing to update my profile after every slight change in an academic opportunity or upgrade in title. Despite the rush of contentment after looking at my newly-improved LinkedIn page, I end up going down a rabbit hole of friend-of-friend profile viewings and feed updates that leave me feeling an urgent need to apply for eight new internships all at once. 

Just like with any social media site, LinkedIn users are only showcasing their most polished and busy selves. While it does make me happy to see people that I care about succeed in their goals, there is still a much larger pool of acquaintances that I am forced to get notified of every time they land a new job or position. In the rat-race to success that a lot of us find ourselves competing in, these constant reminders that everyone around us is involved in multiple projects at all times can take a toll, rather than serving as motivators. What’s worse is a new trend I have seen on the service in the last year, nicknamed ‘LinkedIn influencers,’ where people will share in-depth writeups about their weekly or monthly progress at an internship or job and then share advice on how to be as efficient and hardworking as them in a not-so-subtly condescending manner. I’d like to give these ‘influencers’ the benefit of the doubt, but after viewing countless posts that are filled with nothing but overly-used professional jargon, sappy life lessons learned after just a few weeks with the program or company, and an excess of thank-yous and complimentary words for bosses and managers that seem like they could have been sent in an email instead, it is quite hard to not question the intention behind such public content. 

women with mug and laptop Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels