Note: I spent far too much time on this blog. As I began writing, it simply didn’t turn out as wonderful as it originally sounded in my head. Yet as Mrs. Garrett once said: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…”
I spend a lot of time on social media. Mostly Twitter, often Facebook, sometimes LinkedIn or Google+ and occasionally YouTube. I check email a lot and spend a little time each day checking out various blogs on WordPress.
That’s not to say that I’m an online ‘socialite’. Far from it. While it’s technically part of my job to be involved with social media, I browse more than anything else and do so for mostly personal reasons (though don’t tell my VP of Public Affairs.)Today, however, I found myself responding to several articles on LinkedIn, of all places. A couple of comments were politically based and another, surprisingly, was in response to the Chicago tradition of shoveling out parking spots in the street and then saving them with lawn chairs, kids toys or any other item to prevent another car from taking the spot.
Yet upon posting, I didn’t have that usual sense of anxiety that often occurs when daring to discuss politics, or other in-the-news stories, on Facebook and Twitter. I wasn’t worried that someone would overreact, delete my post, unfriend me, or simply call me some 6th grade adjective for ‘penis’.
I instinctively knew that if someone disagreed with anything I posted, they would either tell me so in a respectful way or simply ignore my comments.
LinkedIn, in that regard, is different. I won’t say better but certainly different.
I believe the reason people are more civil and professional on LinkedIn comes down to basic demographics and the overall purpose of the site.
For one, people on LinkedIn people tend to be older with most being between 25 and 54 years of age. They tend to have college or post-graduate degrees and income levels are higher (except in my case) compared with the US population in general. Money and education certainly don’t equate with being a better person but lends itself to the perceived maturity level of those on LinkedIn.
It’s also a professional site used for networking, job hunting, searching for alumni from past schools or employers, and discussing news and trends in any particular industry. It’s a place to look at resumes, awards and honors, and the professional backgrounds of millions.
And most important, I believe, is that those of us on LinkedIn really can’t hide behind a fake persona. We’re “connected” to people we work with, current (and past) supervisors, and those with whom we want to network with on a professional basis. Most of us have our real pictures of ourselves (not to be confused with selfies) with job titles and other employer information.
It’s not a place to pick up chicks. It’s not an appropriate venue to post random song lyrics. It’s certainly not a meeting place to exchange recipes and you’ll rarely see someone post a picture of themselves eating a 3-pound hamburger at Fuddruckers.
In essence, there’s sort of a built-in culture of censorship.
Now, usually I’m against censorship. I think people should be able to express their ideas and opinions – popular or not – without the fear of repercussion. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible and I’m fine with that.
With a platform like LinkedIn, people are forced to take ownership of their words; to express themselves in a way that’s respectful. If someone crosses the line – and believe me, some people do – they’re responsible and someone, somewhere, will call them out.
For me, I know I display different sides of my personality based on the social media platform. On Twitter I tend to be more opinionated. On Facebook, believe it or not, I’m much more conservative.
On LinkedIn, I tend to be more image-conscious. And on WordPress? It’s really about my life as a parent, sports fan, and weekend warrior.
Despite not being as “social” as I’d like, I truly enjoy social media. The different platforms allow for different sides of my personality to show. Yet more and more I’m becoming fixated with LinkedIn and what it has to offer.
It’s far from perfect, but it absolutely is a big piece of my virtual puzzle. As it should be for anyone looking to better themselves in their career.