I attended to a long-neglected acquaintance earlier today.
An acquaintance known popularly as “Linked In.”
I created an account a few years ago during a precarious spell in which my employer shipped my department to a distant geographical region where the corporate headmasters could be confident of decreasing headcounts but increasing slavecounts: win-win for the shareholders. Lose-lose for me, but fortunately I found a job quickly before my layoff date. During the unsure period of impending doom, I began playing the career porn game on Linked In. I’m not really into participating in that “professional” vibe where everyone is serious and buttoned-down, but in today’s job market one must play the online self-promotion game. I was able to land on my feet and during the ensuing decade I was fully employed due to an old-fashioned employment trick known as “real life connections.” I was spared needing to contend with Linked In’s BS and that noxious “audition vibe” where you play a performing monkey in a tie seeking to impress your prospective masters. So I stopped visiting Linked In and my account sat, untouched and neglected for 7 or 8 years.
This morning, perhaps because the possibility of a labor shutdown looming in this company town threatening in my subconscious, I returned to the site. My password was long discarded so I needed to reset it. I took a few minutes to catch up on the Linked In world and it hasn’t changed. It’s still a wasteland of dry career porn and devout subjects on their best, sunny behavior.
Basically all the conformist mindless status striving I’ve always despised. This is how I roll at 56.
Twenty-five, thirty years ago, my story would have been radically different. I realize this. I’m no longer a careerist and I’ve got a lot less shits to give. The prototypical Linked In user photo is restrained, straightforward and austere, and above all, awash in pearly whites glaring from unnatural smiles. Nothing tricky that bucks the paradigm. You can’t display too much individuality in the workplace. That is dangerous and provokes anxiety in the HR department. Those who buck the trend are prone to other abhorrent acts of non-conformity.
I uploaded a photograph which does not follow the protocol. It’s darkish and I’m tipping a tea cup to my mouth (obscuring my lower face) and I have a pinky delicately extended. It’s not a serious picture and I’m not a serious person. Not for that stupidity.
My photo does not look like any of these.
Maybe a little more like this one using Linked In’s Repression Algorithm as a guide.
Youth is a luxury you trade in for the luxury of not caring.