Monday, November 18, 2013

The Awful Truth: What LinkedIn Has Taught Me About People

I’m a fairly active participant on LinkedIn, and I enjoy hanging out there, promoting my blog, being directed to other people’s blogs, and just generally hearing what people in the world of work are up to and talking about.

But make no mistake. Even within what some might consider the sheltered, virtual walls of the largest white-collar office building in the world, stuff happens. People are people, and sometimes people suck. For example, spending time on LinkedIn has taught me that …

Some Folks Think They’re Better Than Everyone Else
Well, I’m not certain what they think, but it sure comes across that way. These are the individuals who will insert themselves into a conversation that others are peacefully and respectfully enjoying and insist that it’s inappropriate, off-topic, or boring. Now why would anyone do that, I ask? Public service announcement? I don’t think so. It’s a puzzle to me, because it’s not as though group members are sitting around a large conference table in handcuffs, forced to listen to each other’s inane chatter. If the topic doesn’t interest you, then don’t click the link. Alternatively, if you were enjoying the conversation at one time but now aren’t, unsubscribe, and your email won’t be flooded with a bunch of stuff you don’t feel like reading.

Some People are Intolerant
Whenever social justice issues make an appearance in mixed LinkedIn groups, talk is liable to turn ugly, even in 2013 amongst a group of so-called professionals. Discussions I’ve followed have been shut down by moderators because someone complained that LinkedIn is no place to talk about poverty, racial tensions, income inequality, or anything else that makes some people “uncomfortable,” and other times folks just got out of hand. Topics that set people off included Hillary Clinton speaking at the annual SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen, and of course, the Affordable Care Act. The words that fly off some folks’ keyboards is scandalous, in my opinion, and complete evidence of some pretty dark beliefs. Sad.

Some People Can’t Take “No” for an Answer
When a discussion gets personal, I’m out. I’m happy to defend my ideas, but I won’t defend my person—especially to people who don’t even know me, although they may think they do.

So, when a fight discussion is getting nasty, I’ll disengage. I’m not a punk, but I don’t fight shadows, and I don’t fight stupid. (You can take that last bit anyway you wish.)

Still, there are those who simply won’t take no for an answer. I’ve been called names and baited even after I made it perfectly clear that I’m not one to participate in that sort of thing—even as the baiter claimed superiority.

Some People Are Mad About a Lot of Stuff
Not too long ago I wrote a piece that didn't denounce the ACA (aka Obamacare), and certain members in a certain LinkedIn group just went bananas.

Here’s a sample:
"How come all of those seeking entitlements and hand-outs ALWAYS seem to have no trouble buying cars (well beyond their means), smartphones/iPhones, smart phone data plans (after all, you need to have that phone cause you don't want to miss that important text message or Facebook post), internet access, cable TV, expensive shoes/sneakers/clothes, lottery tickets, alcohol, pot, ecstacy [sic], dining out (fast food preferred), movie tickets, travel, vacations, BUT . . . THEY WANT FREE HEALTHCARE because the can't afford the cost! FOODSTAMPS because they need to buy those lottery tickets and alcohol (don't dare ask them to work for their foodstamps or take a drug test for their foodstamps though, cause then you are a (wait for it) RACIST! What they really need to get is BETTER TALKING POINTS cause the ones they have now don't work anymore. Maybe we can get another genius like that ineffective and unqualified President to come up with some new talking points. Because you know with all the FREE eductation [sic] they get they can't come up with them on their own!"
Oh my God. (And that is a literal cry to the almighty. No blaspheming here.)

Hateful stuff. But it gets worse. One poster, apparently in a fury about another poster’s comments, directed a note to her thusly:
“Will tell you this XXX [poster with alternate viewpoint] have been reading all of your posts. Just marked it down, don't think I will be requesting any more quotes from the [XXX’s employer] with you on board. They haven't been very competitive anyway.

But I find it so ironic to hear your rants on big business, and then you gladly take a pay check form [sic] one of the biggest. Funny, gave me a [sic] idea. Decided to cut and paste all your posts, your information and send to the head of marketing. Want to make sure they know how compassionate you are with the brokers you are supposed to be working with. Have fun.”
I literally got chills when I read this. Lordy, I may never vote Republican again. Seriously. There was just that one time, but still… 

On the plus side, I was happy to see another poster call this first poster out (in a very nice way) for behaving poorly.

Some People are Idiots
Actually, I’m mostly talking about myself here. And I’m an idiot, because I’ve been participating in the same LinkedIn circles long enough to know that there are certain people whose opinions I abhor, and yet I still find myself occasionally engaging in their discussions and getting pissed. Like I said, idiot. I should know better and just stay away.

You may be thinking, "Gee girly, if you didn't know this stuff before LinkedIn, I feel sorry for you." 

But here's the thingI honestly was surprised the first time I read a really nasty post on LinkedIn. I just didn't expect it. We teach kids to beware what they post on social media, and here you have adults, "professionals" no less, posting all kinds of junk.

So yeah, I knew these things about people before, but I relearned them on LinkedIn.

Of course, I’ve also met wonderful people on LinkedIn, but this list is about the awful truth, okay?

Do you have something to add to the list? Please post it in the Comments section!


  1. There are stupid, intolerant people everywhere, and LinkedIn is no exception. Some people, unable to deal with life face to face, compensate by overdoing it on social media. Afraid we just have to live with it. My tactic is to just disengage. I never get into the sewer with these rats.

    1. You're right of course, Charles. Note to self--flee temptation!

  2. When people use myths to support their arguments you know what kind of person you are dealing with. Myths such as people on welfare abuse drugs.

    I have no solution as to how to get through to them though because in my experience they will dismiss any facts you present.

    But like you I would be surprised to see that level of unprofessionalism on a networking site for professionals. On Facebook and other social media sites, one could argue that they solely represent themselves. But on Linkedin, most of us list our professional history including our current position so like it or not our employer is linked to us. I'm surprised we don't ever read about being being let go due to what they post on LinkedIn.

    1. Alex, that's an interesting point you make. We hear all the time about people getting fired for postings on Facebook, but I can't recall a single case involving LinkedIn, and that's surprising. A Google search yielded this link from a guy in the UK!

      But you're right--those determined to be unpleasant generally aren't interested in information.

    2. Alex, I do know someone who was disciplined for a frequent posts on another site that many deemed racist. Someone wrote to the employee's supervisor and board of directors regarding what they term the employee's racist belief. Of course, this person used their company email with tagline, so they were not hard to find. The forum is a small but active HR forum out here in California - so it does happen.

  3. I know where you are coming from. I'm building my tolerance to ignore the ranting engagers who most time sucks the life right out of a good topic discussion. I got to the point of clicking the "Flag as inappropriate" button. Do the group moderator manage the reporting, that's another story in itself I take it.

    1. "Building tolerance" -- sounds like a plan! And yes, it's clear that some moderators are MIA, but I don't mind that so much, because good moderators are rare anyhow.

  4. Greetings Crystal,

    I am puzzled and hope you can explain something for me. What is the link between unsolicited rants you've received and your comment: "I literally got chills when I read this. Lordy, I may never vote Republican again. Seriously. There was just that one time, but still… "

    Mind you, I have no vested interest in the argument and take no offense, because I've not lived in the US since the May 2001. I just don't see the connection (perhaps I missed it).

    Many thanks
    John M Walker
    (shows as anonymous as I have no Google account)

  5. oops, I meant "since the end of May 2001"

    1. Hello John:

      Thanks for your question. Prior to the rants, the ranters had made several comments about Democrats and President Obama and had even called me out as an airheaded liberal etc., so I assume, between those earlier comments and these later ones (which exemplify typical right-wing blather), that these individuals are Republican, and truly, as I read the comments it came to my mind that "This is why the Republican party is perceived the way it is among non-Republicans." Now mind you, I've voted both Democrat and Republican, and I honestly don't care about someone's party affiliation, but hate like this (and I'm just going to call it like I see it), reinforces for me why, despite how I've voted in the past AND some other beliefs I hold, I'm not a registered Republican. (And yes, I realize that not all Republicans can be painted with the same brush.)

      Are you an American living abroad or someone of another nationality who spent some time with us?

  6. Hi Crystal,
    I just stumbled on your blog and I love it. I am also shocked by some of the stuff I see on LinkedIn. I'm not naive and have friends and relatives all over the board politically and religiously but can't believe the stuff I see in groups for human resources, of all things. It's a little sad that as you describe each person- thinks they're better, are intolerant, etc, I saw in my head the profile pics of those people who comment frequently in groups I belong to. I had recently commented to a friend that I'm starting to think HR people must be primarily a-holes (and, yes, I'm in HR). Thanks for the perspective and letting me know I'm not the only one seeing this stuff!

    Think I'm going to look up and read some of your other stuff now!


    1. Paula, you're funny!! Thanks for the comment and the compliment!

  7. Crystal, I just discovered your blog too and I love it! I felt like your article on narsististic bosses was written just for me!


  8. If it's taken you this long to learn these things about humans, then you're a failure. It's hardly surprising that you work in HR.