I deleted my profile on LinkedIn. This follows deleting my Facebook account a few years ago. I deleted Facebook because I thought it was creepily cloying, excessively memish, and a waste of time. I deleted LinkedIn because it was boring and useless and increasingly annoying. I’m actually surprised I let it hang around with me for so long.
But my story with LinkedIn is probably like yours, or maybe a bit like other professional and slightly introverted web netters like me. A few years back, say 2008 or so, there were three primary choices for engaging in social media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook was decently well-established and growing fast, doubling its users from 50 million to 100 million between 2007 to 2008 (it now has over 1 billion screen people). Twitter was relatively new and seen as the exciting up-and-comer, though people—especially lawyers—still scratched their heads about a service that provided excellent updates on what was digested for breakfast.
LinkedIn, though, was the “safe” choice, the one for “professionals” to engage in if you really didn’t want to engage in anything at all. As I remember during my days running online services at the Minnesota State Bar Association, it was the recommended social media for lawyers because, well, you have to do something online, dontcha? And LinkedIn was, increasingly for lawyers, that “something.” Safe, secure, professional, maybe even a place to get a job or, ha, a client.
And that’s the problem. LinkedIn was certainly “something” but it was—from the beginning—almost always dead, an endplace on the web with nothing of real consequence. It still is today. It is not a place where you would want to go to mess around and learn something, unless of course you had the urge to respond to the increasingly vapid requests for connections with people you do not know (or possibly remember vaguely from a bar conference four years earlier). There’s no there there in LinkedIn and, worse, it began to clog my email with notices that made me feel I was falling down on a vague professional “obligation” to connect with people I did not know and to let them also know, for instance, that I worked for the law firm of Christensen Laue & Rasmus in 2006. For something I never visited, it sure liked to visit me a lot.
I gave myself a choice. Either change my LinkedIn profile to my alter-ego of Goat Lawyer or delete the account. I tried to upload my Goat Lawyer profile image, but LinkedIn obviously uses facial recognition software which, not surprisingly, does not recognize goat-headed lawyers, even those wearing a tie. Goat lawyer would never load, despite numerous attempts. So, instead of doing the next best thing and adding all of Goat Lawyer’s accolades to my own profile, including an advisory membership in the Ruminant Lawyers’ Bar Association, I deleted my LinkedIn account. I was done. Why have something hanging around that I never used and, for the most part, always found a way to use me? In my own recent personal effort to rid my life of useless things, LinkedIn made the list, easily.
In the course of the last six or seven years I managed to scrabble together 290 connections on LinkedIn, which, for social media metrics, is paltry and pathetic. But to you 290 people who connected with me, well, thanks, I guess. And thanks to those who congratulated me on my one-year work anniversary. That was touching.