Although I’m on all kinds of social media, LinkedIn isn’t one of my faves. It’s not the platform but the activity that really gets me–it feels like an adult playground where everyone is pretending to know what they’re doing. Furthermore, if they actually believe what they post on there, they’re even deeper in it that I give everyone base credit for. If the conclusions of FOMO and inadequacy are true on Facebook where you’re comparing homes, kids, cars, and bodies, LinkedIn feels even worse. Somehow, I’m always the dumbest and most incompetent on LinkedIn. So I don’t go to either. They both feel like the sororities I’ve avoided throughout my education.
I’d rather stick to Instagram where I can at least see pictures of dogs.
Thus, imagine my surprise this week when I kept getting DM’s from LinkedIn. “What in the hell…”I mouthed to myself as I went through the painstaking ritual of logging in, straining my quarantine brain back to my last login credentials there from circa 2017. Lo and behold, I find messages congratulating me on…my 5 year anniversary at my job. Only questions arose.
First, I guess I didn’t realize that for some people, that’s a thing. I’ve never really marked years at a job as a crucial statistic. Me myself, I equate it more with what must be the feeling of etching hash marks into the prison cell wall. So, I was delighted-cum-consternated (yes, it’s a word, I looked it up)–I guess?–by the acknowledgement. Second, I gathered from this reflection that, much like birthdays, some people must imbue this with a lot of meaning. I couldn’t help but notice that people who sent me well-wishes tended toward the more corporate side of life, although that’s also the LinkedIn crowd, and they’re also not my tightest gaggle of besties, if you know what I mean, except for one who was being so incredibly, so beautifully, ironic her sentiment almost made the 180-degree turn to sincerity. Third, and lastly for my purpose here although I could really dig in further, I wonder how many people take whatever unfolds here on this poser-y platform seriously. I know this comes across as incredibly cynical but that’s where I am with the world of resumes, CV’s, and whatever other ridiculous “statements of purpose” or “philosophy” you have to come up with to explain how important your work is to the world. My entire job right now encompasses accountability; I see a lot of peacocking on LinkedIn…but coming up a little short when it comes to owning all of the shit that’s going on everywhere right now.
Anyhoo, at this point my reflection took a turn because my cynicism doesn’t leap sui generis onto this page. Whenever I turn dark and angry it’s because there’s a truth somewhere deep in there that needs to be…unleashed. In this case, the truth is that I’m touchy about being congratulated on a job 1) that I have hated for five years, 2) that has not made the world a better place (nor has attained any of its promises to a community in need), and 3) that has been an abusive work relationship for as long as I’ve been there. In many, many ways, the last five years has been a huge nightmare, a toxic swirl of gaslighting, ageism, misuse of power, and my own suffocation as an intellectual and employee. I’ve been embarrassed in front of people for others’ gain, have felt humiliated for speaking the truth, unheard and unacknowledged by management. I’ve been called a racist by people who do not acknowledge their own power and privilege. I’ve been called incompetent and insubordinate. I’ve been dismissed.
Here’s the real kicker, though: I’m ashamed because I stayed. I realized this was the issue last week as I was in a friend’s garage, sitting around an appropriately-social-distanced circle of friends whom I hadn’t seen in person for six months, and found myself screaming at him about this job. I was rageful. And in one conversation shortly thereafter, I watched someone model exactly what I should have been saying all along: I’m better than this. I cannot do what they’re asking me because it’s not the way I want to live. That’s not who I am. It was a slap in the face with a wet octopus (is that a trope? If not, it should be). My old self slapped back into consciousness; this isn’t who I am. How have I let this happen? More important, it’s time to get out of there. Maybe best: you’re destined and ready for so much better.
And then, the LinkedIn anniversary came up. So, I made a decision. This is my last anniversary to be celebrated at this place that no longer deserves my skills and talents. I’ve made this promise before but this time, the destination is bigger and better. My life is too short to compromise for what is ultimately just a headline on LinkedIn, of all places. Here’s to never seeing this anniversary ever again.