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Original illustrations by Sean Martinez

Is LinkedIn the New LiveJournal? (No)

Written By Hannah Risser-Sperry | Apr 7, 2020

I never thought I’d write this, but damn, LinkedIn is filled with vulnerability right now.

This has never been the case. We’ve all heard a lot about how social media isn’t real life, focusing especially on so-called selfie culture and influencer marketing, but LinkedIn always felt sheltered from such thinkpieces. I wasn’t thinking much about how professionals display their professionalism on the site, outside of knowing that certain things you’d share on, say, TikTok, weren’t appropriate for LinkedIn (if you didn’t know that, you’re welcome).

And yet: suddenly logging into LinkedIn feels akin to dialing into my remote therapy session. People are opening up about their fears, and they’re doing so without trying to sell me something (so far anyway).

All of this has had me feeling like I finally have some company in the world. See, as someone who experiences serious anxiety and major depressive episodes even when the world doesn’t feel in flux the way it does now, I feel oddly prepared to handle this moment. That anxiety you are feeling right now? I usually experience that alone. That concern that you’ll feel this way forever? In every one of my darkest, lowest moments, I’ve been convinced of the same.

People are opening up about their fears, and they’re doing so without trying to sell me something (so far anyway).

But myself and others who experience depression can finally share a bit of our hard won knowledge: every single depression we’ve had so far has eventually ended, even if during it we could not have possibly convinced ourselves of that fact.

And this pandemic? It will eventually end, somehow. It may not be soon. It may not be straightforward or simple. It certainly won’t be easy, as we’ve seen. But I hope that it will have all of us, collectively, rethinking some of our most dearly held opinions about society and capitalism and what we owe to one another.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying this increase of empathy. LinkedIn suddenly feels a bit more like a group chat or a happy hour or a late night phone call: honest, open, and trusted. It feels like a space where we can be more ourselves and less our professional achievements. What that means in the long run is up for discussion, but in the short term I’m enjoying everyone being a little more human.

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