Pssst . . . We can see your real names on LinkedIn comments!
Blurred lines between social media and journalism
Articles regarding online bullying (of all age groups) are commonplace; stories about restaurant receipts posted to Twitter (showing tips and lack thereof, religious judgments, or kind benefactors gifting hundreds) seem to happen every week; and iCloud/ Instagram / Facebook / smart phone hacking stories share equal billing with declarations of military action and Ebola outbreaks. Underlying this daily saturation of similar stories is social media. Social media provides a never-ending supply of shocking, touching, and thought-provoking fodder. But as these stories spread, it also provides a venue to torment unwilling and unsuspecting victims instantaneously and anonymously. (Conversely, it also makes praising heroes that much easier.)
Simply, if the right person reads, retweets or shares a seemingly innocuous receipt, a regional story can spread like wildfire on traditional and online publications.
We have also seen the public shaming that happens when someone's anonymous tweet or private Facebook post loses that veil of privacy. Sooner or later, the Twitter identities are exposed, the IP addresses are tracked, and names are revealed.
LinkedIn is not anonymous
LinkedIn is meant to represent your true identity. By using the site, we agree that the information we provide is truthful and that we are not using a false identity. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ have similar terms, but there is no long-lasting ramification for creating user handles or pseudonyms. When LinkedIn is used by many as an online résumé, it would be hard to explain using a pseudonym.
In this context, I cannot believe some of the comments posted on LinkedIn. I will let them speak for themselves:
On a LinkedIn post about recruiting mistakes to avoid:
Stop bashing clients and candidates. Making fun of candidates is really not acceptable especially outside of your core group. I hear it all the time recruiters are employees too... somebody hired you and there is a company out there that didn't hire you either. You are not God for candidates to come begging at your feet.
On a LinkedIn post about the NFL and domestic violence
No Robert, what 'we' need is for young black kids (yes KIDS) to stop pumping out fatherless babies that go on to a life of crime or wefare[sic] or both. 3 of every 4 black babies is born out of wedlock. This is a huge burden to the rest of society on many different levels.
On a Linked post about the biggest mistakes seen by a recruiter
This article sucks. It's generic and not insightful at all. Thanks for letting us know we shouldn't have typos in our resumes.
Wow, LinkedIn is so boring lately. I cant believe i even read this article. Where is the new information? This is worse than 101, this stuff is implied!
So why are the comments so negative and unprofessional?
I don't have an answer to this question. Nor can I explain the rude, racist, and disrespectful sample commentary I've listed above. Perhaps we have become so inured by social media and our perceived online anonymity that we feel we can say whatever we want with no repercussions -- despite the constant stream of articles that prove otherwise. The most perplexing thing of all is how anyone can post such things knowing it will be advertised to their entire list of contacts AND every reader to the LinkedIn Pulse post.
We can see your real names on LinkedIn!
LinkedIn is not like most social media platforms. We connect our real names, our education, our professional history, and our contacts together to build a community. If you wouldn't put one these comments on your résumé, it doesn't belong on this site. This network can be used to find new teaming partners, new jobs, and to ask for advice. Be mindful of what prospective contacts or employers will see.
Additionally, many posters are representing an organization. Your supervisors, managers, and human resources teams are on LinkedIn. If you don't think they would approve of your comment, then don't post it.
What should you say?
The Pulse posts are an amazing library of life lessons earned by our community members. I've read posts I didn't like or that I felt needed more information. In those cases, I chose to keep my comments to myself or requested clarification. Use your comment to open a dialogue with your community. You could end up making a connection.
Simply put, we should conduct ourselves as professionals and like our comments can and will be there to represent us long after we've signed off.
Let me know what you think. I do welcome any and all comments.