All LinkedIn with Nowhere to Go

24 November 2013Opinion

Ann Friedman, writing in The Baffler:

In a jobs economy that has become something of a grim joke, nothing seems quite so bleak as the digital job seeker’s all-but-obligatory LinkedIn account. In the decade since the site launched publicly with a mission “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful,” the glorified résumé-distribution service has become an essential stop for the professionally dissatisfied masses. The networking site burrows its way into users’ inboxes with updates spinning the gossamer dream of successful and frictionless advancement up the career ladder. Just add one crucial contact who’s only a few degrees removed from you (users are the perpetual Kevin Bacons in this party game), or update your skill set in a more market-friendly fashion, and one of the site’s 187 million or so users will pluck you from a stalled career and offer professional redemption. LinkedIn promises to harness everything that’s great about a digital economy that so far has done more to limit than expand the professional prospects of its user-citizens.

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This frenetic networking-by-vague-association has bred a mordant skepticism among some users of the site. Scott Monty, head of social media for the Ford Motor Company, includes a disclaimer in the first line of his LinkedIn bio that, in any other context, would be a hilarious redundancy: “Note: I make connections only with people whom I have met.” It’s an Escher staircase masquerading as a career ladder.

I have a LinkedIn account, but aside from periodically updating my profile when something eventful happens in my career or accepting new connection requests, I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to use the site for.