At the urging of my friend Louis, I have returned to LinkedIn.
I’d avoided it for years because I’m not in the market for a “job,” and find the dialogue on there to be vapid, performative, and – I cannot emphasize this point enough – emphatically boring.
Forced hot takes, feigned “excitement” over things that are decidedly not exciting, the endless posturing, the needless commentary that offers no sincere insight, the cheesy declaratives people mistake as wisdom (“Emails end conversations, phone calls start them.” Rich thoughts from the guy trying to start a conversation with a status update). It’s exhausting.
LinkedIn begets a different brand of fakeness than Instagram. Instagram influencers at least have the audacity to be entertaining. But LinkedIn is a cesspool of reminders of why I left Corporate America. The “polished professionalism” masking all the mandated pretending you have to do in order to survive there.
Pretending to cling to the illusion that “we care” and “our employees are family” and I didn’t just hear you say, “She’s not working, she’s just home with her kids,” or “Let’s get Muriel on the Hispanic – I mean cultural – account,” or “Whatever don’t get so worked up, our ads just reflect the data. And the data is most women do the shopping.”
It’s bad enough to be gaslit living in the world, but having to deal with it in a work setting for 15 hours of your day is enough to break even the strongest of wills. My strong will walked TF out of that cesspool and carved out my own little corner of the internet where I don’t have to pretend. I don’t have to pretend I want my boss’s boss’s job, I don’t have to pretend I’m ok with how you just mansplained that to Jamie, I don’t have to pretend it’s ok that you determine how I’m allowed to wear my hair but won’t institute a mask mandate to protect my kids. I don’t have to smile all the time at the advancements from gross sexually repressed older men who “are just being friendly.”
I don’t have to pretend to enjoy late nights out, being away from my family, or secret Santa. I don’t have to pretend that it’s “sweet” that you asked me to bring in Sufganiyot as your token Jew or ask for my opinion as “the female” in the room or worry that my tone makes me sound “angry and aggressive, maybe soften it a bit.” I don’t have to pretend that anyone is paying attention to my presentation. I don’t have to pretend that abusive behavior from a client is ok because “they’re our biggest account.” I don’t have to pretend that deck took me 5 hours “so we can bill for it, instead of the 90 minutes it actually took you.”
I don’t have to pretend I didn’t just hear Jason say, “Well, she’s 34 so. You know,” while we’re discussing hiring a woman who he thinks doesn’t have kids. He can’t legally ask, but he assumes she’s going to want some if she doesn’t have them because, you know, she’s female. And I don’t have to pretend, “You know,” isn’t just offensive and illegal, but straight-up inaccurate.
If you’re wondering why, after all this, I would deign to return to LinkedIn, it’s because I’d forgotten that behind the posturing, performance, bullshit, and boredom – are some sincerely good people trying desperately to do the right thing. Some of us are there by choice and some of us are stuck in situations where we’re clinging to every ounce of our heart that hasn’t been hardened by the world yet.
Corporate America, like marketing, is made of people. And for as long as that is true, then we have hope for change and a shot at reclaiming our integrity.
Come join the (not boring) conversation over here.
Margo “Let’s make this better” Aaron
PS: THANK YOU to those of you on this list who gave me a hellofa welcome back. I did not anticipate that. Your DMs, your status updates tagging me, your comments in my ridiculous I’m back declaration – has me swallowing all my previous prejudices about this platform.
I hate when Louis is right.