Why LinkedIn can make you depressed

Social networks do not have good press at the moment. They are accused of damaging mental health of teenagers, especially girls, by promoting unhealthy expectations of reality and body image, bullying 24/7 and lack of sleep.

Usually, when referring to the harmful effects of social networks, we refer to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and possibly Whatsapp.

But we often forget LinkedIn. LinkedIn is different. LinkedIn is a serious social network, for serious business, for grown-ups. Right ?

My theory is : LinkedIn is the Facebook of people above 25. It creates the exact same effect for very little lasting reward. 

I have a LinkedIn account. I created a profile before it was mainstream and have updated it religiously with my successive job titles. However, I rarely post anything.

The question to remove my LinkedIn profile is irrelevant for now : like a CV, it is expected by recruiters. It ensures that recruiters conducting searches will find me. I recognize the value of LinkedIn when actively looking for a job.

But, outside of job hunt, should I be more active on the network ? Browse it and post ?

I did an experiment today to understand whether browsing LinkedIn is a productive or negative way to spend my time. I browsed my newsfeed for 1 hour.

These are the emotions I felt during that 1 hour  :

  • Fury : what people shared and the reality are 2 different things. Between colleagues massively overstating their achievements (one even stealing mine !!!) or companies shamelessly marketing their token ESG efforts, LinkedIn is a giant ad platform where most stories are fake.
  • Jealousy : Everyone is more successful than me. Seriously, even the people currently unemployed and occupying their time with conferences and charities (not a bad thing mind) seem to achieve more than me. I must be a complete lost cause… As a result, I feel like shit.
  • Unrest: So many people are “transitioning”. And not from consulting to corporate. They do complete 360 U-turn. Maybe I should buy a farm. Or become a teacher. Again, my career is shit and I am not even brave enough to take the plunge !
  • A bit of inspiration : I found 2 valuable pieces of content : a video of a French wannabe entrepreneur who explained why she was stopping her project after the MVP phase and an article from a guy who, like me, doesn’t enjoy formal people management.

It’s not all bad but seriously, I feel better when I browse Facebook…

Why does LinkedIn leads to so many fraught feelings ? Because it is a social media ! It leads to comparison of ranks, success, skills, achievements.

14 year old girls want to fit in with their peers but 34 year old professionals are not different. They want to do better than others. Faced with an embellished, heavily tweaked presentation of someone else’s success, they feel inadequate.

If you are a professional in your 30s today, you are probably experiencing anxiety over your career. It’s not enough to make a living, your job needs to be special. You need to fulfill a mission, change the world, do good.

There is a crueler twist for mothers in there, who end up comparing their careers with that of their child-free female friends or of men, feeling even more underachieving and possibly like their best efforts will not matter.

Sorry LinkedIn, you are doing me more harm than good so it’s goodbye for now. I will go back to my dormant state and awaken when it is time to look for my new job. At that point, I will update my profile photo, add some jazzy description to my CV and implement my very own marketing strategy. Until then, ciao.

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