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Yuri Chang | I hate you, but I love you

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Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 08:11

 

I’m sooo sorry if I sent you an invite!” a friend very publicly apologized on her Facebook status. This friend wasn’t referring to an accidental link that hacks into Twitter accounts or spams with ads for diet pills. She was referring to LinkedIn.

Somehow, the Evil LinkedIn Machine infiltrated her account and sent invitations to join to everyone in her university’s network. This Machine is taking anxious college students by force, as one by one, we trade in our personal crude humor blogs for professional LinkedIn pages.

I’ve asked my peers why they have LinkedIn accounts and almost all of them replied with, “I don’t really know. I just feel like I should.” Social media platforms are transforming social expectations, and in some cases, quite illogically. Just like how the New York Times deemed owning a BlackBerry and not an iPhone as social suicide, or how you aren’t a real friend until you are a Facebook friend first. In theory, having a LinkedIn account should help ambitious college students like us progress our future careers. Yet it’s more about flaunting our r貵m豠on the Internet or having a LinkedIn account just to keep up with everybody else.

Others suggest that having an account is like a safeguard for chance successes; you never know whom you’ll want to reach out to in the future. Still, I keep waiting for the day that my best-friend-from-eighth-grade’s older brother becomes the CEO of the Next Big Company so that I can milk that LinkedIn connection for all it’s worth. Something tells me that I shouldn’t hold my breath. Of all my past job and internship experiences, exactly none of them were procured this way.

And it’s not like having a LinkedIn is easy maintenance either. Because of its professional nature, I feel obligated to keep my page looking pro-fresh. Earlier this year I Googled my name and was startled to find that my neglected LinkedIn page was the first result to show up. So after spending more than an hour importing my r貵m窠getting all start and end dates right and filling in the specific job descriptions, I then had to deal with the dilemma of which photo to use as my profile pic.

I consulted with my close friend and LinkedIn “Pro” to help pick which photo to use. He informed me that ideally this photo should be of the same caliber of an awkward senior portrait, meaning that it ought to be taken at a professional studio complete with a collared shirt and pearl earrings. Basically what that meant was that none of my photos were appropriate for LinkedIn use.

Not to mention the social anxiety that accompanies owning a LinkedIn account. Looking at the achievements of your peers can be great but also panic inducing.

“Oh, God, why is everyone’s resume so much more impressive than mine?” is my inner monologue as I thumb through my connections’ pages. “How do I compete with the guy who helped engineer a water well in Malawi or the girl who has a recommendation from the President of the Red Cross?”

I can also tell that the LinkedIn Machine is hell-bent on sucking me into its grips as it continues to outsmart me in emailing me notifications. I maneuvered through their maze of privacy settings and unchecked dozens of boxes saying no to endless types of email notifications.

“So-and-so has updated his resume.” “Check out this person’s new job!” “We’ve found x-y-and-z and think you should be contacts!” Despite my best efforts, these self-congratulatory messages still regularly creep into my inbox.

In the end, I see LinkedIn accounts as a necessary evil. Will I delete my LinkedIn? Most likely no, but I will resent it all the same.

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Yuri Chang is a senior majoring in International Relations. She can be reached at Yuri.Chang@tufts.edu

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