Last week I deleted my Twitter account. And my Facebook account. And my LinkedIn account.
Why?! I hear you say. Well, I’ve remembered that it’s much more satisfying to read real, good old fashioned paragraphs that I have to concentrate on reading and have a hope of retaining too. I don’t want snap shots of ‘bite sized’ information in 140 characters and yet another hyperlink anymore.
Real humans, Real conversations, Real life
I’d also prefer to hear about my friends’ experiences through a real conversation and be inspired by human emotion from a person, not a wall or post. As for Linkedin and my 500+ ‘connections’. It’s been emotion…less. The endless comparison, exotic job titles, the ‘reaching out’, ‘keeping in touch’ or ‘touching base’. The mindless ‘connecting’…
The word connection symbolises relatedness, a bond or tie, a relationship. As humans we’re hard wired to connect. And yet for me, there began to feel a certain emptiness to doing it online. Not only that, but there was this innate sense that somehow my career and my decisions had led me down the wrong path. I would use Linkedin in a bid to find inspiration from the pages of other, more ‘successful’ careerists. How could I map out the next five years in a bid to become ‘Head of’, ‘Senior’ or ‘Director’?
Careers Without Boundaries
This notion of right and wrong, pass or fail is so strong ingrained in our culture. It’s sad to think that we don’t encourage experimentation, trying out careers like we try out clothes. You wouldn’t keep an ill-fitting jumper in the hope that in a years’ time it might suit you. So why do it with a career?
I’ve become known to my friends and family as a serial job hunter, always looking for the next opportunity. Some people think it’s brave, admirable even to continue to try out different ways of working. Those of a more ‘linear’ mind-set don’t really understand this notion of chopping and changing, or ‘boundaryless career’. This concept of ‘boundaryless career’ is known to careerists as an independence from, rather than dependence on, traditional organisational career arrangements.
Perhaps it was because of this that I started to become more aware of how my Linkedin Profile portrayed me. It was starting to feel limiting, not knowing how to convey the depth of my interests but the breadth of my experience; attempting to connect the dots of my work to reflect some degree of progression, growth and transition.
So, I decided to just stop worrying; because, Linkedin hasn’t been around forever. What did we do before Linkedin? We made real, human, valued connections. There didn’t always exist this notion of humans as commodities, this attitude of ‘what can you do for me’?
I wanted to reconnect with the intricacies of building meaningful connections; making the effort, spending the time. More importantly, people remember how you make them feel and I’m fairly certain that doesn’t comes across in a word count. I don’t know about you but I’d rather make my impression in person, face to face.
A Digital Detox
Perhaps there was also an element in me that wanted to step off from the technology merry-go-round. In 1987, we were spending a minimum of approximately six hours in face to face interaction. Fast-forward to 2015 and it’s closer to two hours with the rest taken up with screen time. For all their benefits, screens and social media has the potential to make us incredibly inward focused, narcissistic even.
And yet, deleting my Linkedin profile was much harder than Facebook or Twitter. The worry of missing out on a professional opportunity still niggles away at me. Maybe this will drive me to set up another profile but in the meantime I’m enjoying the aspect of anonymity to my past; privacy, mystery even! I now have to think harder about who I want to make contact with and why, seeking the real value in certain connections. It’s inherently more rewarding.
Not having my Linkedin profile also allows me to be more ‘protean’, able to assume different forms and find different meanings in experiences. I’m not concerned with how it’s going to look anymore because I can just enjoy the interaction. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and esteemed psychiatrist proclaimed that the meaning of life was to be found, not in oneself, but in one’s interaction with the surrounding world. I want my interactions to be with my real world, to have an air of magic, enchantment and excitement again.
Join the revolution
Why not join me and my movement to re-create more meaningful connections? Delete a profile, talk to a person instead of playing on your phone or just disconnect habitually for at least one day a week.
If this seems too much but you’re keen to understand more, why not try out my reading list: