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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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LinkedIn is evil and so are we

To be evil is a tricky subject. Most certainly, to be malicious would be a qualifier, but that is not what I speak of here. Rather, to be evil is to be immoral: to violate and inhibit an inherent goodness. And how could smothering someone’s humanity be anything other than that? Worse yet, to pressure people into doing so by their own coerced volition is nothing more than cruel deceit. Yet there could be no other way, right? Everyone I have ever spoken to that knows anything about the corporate world has cited LinkedIn as essential. It is simply what must be done. Part of our existence. Divinely bestowed. That’s just the way it is.

If that were so, how tragically sad it would be.

LinkedIn is not the source, but a putrid symptom of a greater societal evil, of a festering wound that spreads and consumes the light of sincerity. That is, we have been taught to hide who we are. We have been taught to lie to one another, but worst of all, to lie to ourselves in the pursuit of capital. We are victims of a system that produces physical wellbeing at the expense of the human spirit. And once one of us gives in, we all must follow, for we cannot dare fall behind. If we do, we will be punished. 

Take one glance at your LinkedIn feed and tell me with all honesty that this is how people feel and think. Look me in the eyes and tell me this is true. This is not a matter of formality, vocabulary or syntax, but a matter of the people, their meaning and their lives, behind the words — who they really are beyond their fake stories. The posts that were not written by ChatGPT were canned responses to canned questions, interlaced in a cycle of nonsensical chatter. This mentality that permits such nothingness to define us is a dangerous one, because once you become what you preach to be, what is left? Do you really feel fulfilled with merely this? Is that all there is to your life?

Even more importantly, it besmirches all human contact. Everything is a transaction, every greeting a negotiation tactic and every farewell a declaration of victory over the other.

Tell me, as you write that overtly formal, heavily-edited email to someone whom you care naught about, from whom you simply seek a favor, do you believe your lies? You will write that you hope this email finds them well. You will write that you wish them the best of regards. You will create small talk, ask them about their vacation, their family, their hopes, but it is all a facade when the time comes to write about what you truly meant to. This email could have been two sentences long. You simply must follow the rules. After all, you do not know them, you would never have spoken to them were it not something you needed from them. So, what are you speaking about? What do all these wishes and pleasantries amount to? Nothing. Nothing at all. 

Do not believe I speak from a place of superiority. Quite the contrary, I must shout to the heavens or else my hypocrisy will consume me whole. Why, you are more than encouraged to look me up on LinkedIn! Connect with Carlos Basurto, vouch for his abilities, click all the links and be amazed by all his extracurriculars and his GPA. He leads his life to expand how lustrous the profile is, for there are thousands if not millions of others better, and all those people must have a greater value. In the end, this is all there could possibly be to being Carlos Basurto, no? That is the entirety of a human being, right? 

I am not certain who this Carlos Basurto is, but he is not me. 

I do not blame you or I for this state of affairs, but to blind ourselves to this violation of our being cannot be the solution. Let us have, at bare minimum, a degree of shame: a degree of rage.

This is not a matter of perspective, for we become the lies we tell. How is it that “fake it till you make it!” is an encouragement rather than a harrowing threat? When we “highlight our best” we do not align and associate ourselves with positive qualities, we change our entire worldview to fit this capitalistic system’s desires. We erase ourselves and become whatever works best, produces the best output, fattens the bottom line most. This is not growth, this is not flourishing, this is spiritual suicide. And everyone around us claps as we do. We will receive awards and recognitions, our efforts will result in fame, money and prestige. This is what matters most, no? Those without privilege have no choice but to do so when the alternative is to starve in such an individualistic world. Those with privilege will hold onto these things tighter than they do to their loved ones. 

Why, who needs love when you have networking? Who needs passion when you have generational wealth? Who needs sincerity when you have a cold, calculated and perfectly tailored mask to wear?

If we permit this system to proceed without friction, if we stand by and willingly redefine ourselves into one of the many boxes we have been told we should fall into, if we contribute to the destruction of the human spirit, how is it that we can be anything but evil? 

We are not machines, with machine hearts and machine minds! We are not “agents of change” nor “visionary entrepreneurs” nor “leadership advocates” nor any of these meaningless tags. What in the world are we talking about? We are human! We defecate! We bleed! We die!

Our passions and dreams have been weaponized against us, reduced to mere decor in our public profiles and bargaining chips to climb an infinite ladder made out of gold. Gold may be shiny, but it too is cold to the touch. It most certainly cares not for us. 

I wish for a world where there is no need to lie or reduce oneself. I wish for a world without LinkedIn and networking events, without career centers that train one to speak hollow words that do not merely create a false image, but defile what we could have been. I wish for more, I suppose. I just wish for something genuine.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.