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Believe It or Not, Reality Is Real Life

·5 mins

In the olden days, we had résumés, and today, well, some of us still have résumés (or curriculum vitaes, if you prefer). But now, we also have social media profiles, which–to some folks–are the new résumés. They are the new first impression for the chronically online, the new first point of contact, the new first everything. And in the context of getting a job, these profiles and our Internet behavioural breadcrumbs are the new first thing that can get you hired or not hired. Let’s hope those recruiters don’t find your Reddit profile.

But here’s the thing: your LinkedIn profile is not reality. Neither are résumés for that matter, as in both cases, these can be curated to present a particular image of yourself that goes beyond reality into the realm of fantasy–if you choose. They’re a blank canvas fact-checked by no one, and you can paint whatever you wish upon them. Just be sure to pray to your deity of choice that no one asks you to prove your proficiency in that one thing you said you were an expert in and that your reference checks pan out.

I have, over the years, encountered many of the sort of people who are certified Thought Leaders on the Internet (i.e., have lots of followers on <platform>), and yet, in real life, they struggle to do much other than spend all day scrolling through their feeds. They are not the experts they claim to be, or perhaps they suffer from crippling anxiety or ADHD, and based on their actual output (i.e., in a professional context), it becomes clear their online presence is a facade.

In my attempts to acquire a job with health insurance since deleting my LinkedIn profile, I have encountered a few perplexed folks who can’t seem to grok my disinterest in receiving irrelevant recruiter spam, collecting fake Internet friends, and seeing what the LinkedIn Lunatics are posting about today.

From what I recall, I had acquired quite many LinkedIn buddies over the years, but I can’t say I remember many of them. I have easily kept in touch with anyone worth keeping in touch with, and I haven’t required anything other than email and a phone number to do so as an average human existing in reality.

But don’t delete your LinkedIn account #

Sadly, I do think most people should keep their LinkedIn profiles, as we live in a time when being the odd one out will not help you in finding employment should you need to. Lucky for me, I can exist without a day job, so I can afford to be the odd one out and forgo the unwanted spam. But most people can’t, and I get that.

I do find it odd, however, that we have come to a point where we are judged by whether we choose to be members of a particular advertisement delivery system, and I personally loathe ads in all forms.

But I digress. The point is, your LinkedIn profile is not reality. It is a fiction of your own making, and it is a fiction that can be used to your advantage. But it is not reality. Reality is real life, and real life is not a series of posts on a social media platform. Real life is the things you do when you are not posting on social media. It is the things you do when you are not trying to impress people you don’t know. Real life is what you do in between your vacations. It’s the things you do when you are not trying to get hired. Whether it’s LinkedIn, your Hinge profile, your wonderful vacation photos on Instagram, or your Twitter feed, these are not reality. They are your personal projection of whatever you want you to be.

I won’t get into value judgments about whether you should or shouldn’t have accounts on these platforms (I choose not to). There are some exceptions, of course. For example, I’m still a big fan of GitHub, and some people might consider it a social media platform.

To be or not to be #

We humans are social creatures; we want to fit in, be liked, and do as the group does. For me, however, I prefer 100% organic real life experiences and abhor what the modern-day ad-infested Internet has become. Thus, I choose to use my time to take walks in the park, listen to music, read books (ok, ok, I mostly do audiobooks these days), work on my various projects, and write. I occasionally follow the news cycle and still do read-only Reddit (old Reddit, that is), but I avoid allowing myself to get sucked into the negativity vortex.

Do you need a profile on <platform>? No, not really. Will it be easier to find a job if you exist on LinkedIn? Yes, probably. Will your Hinge matches be more trusting of you if they can stalk your Instagram vacation photos before agreeing to a date? Probably. But is it necessary? No, not really.

So to those on the fence, worried about missing out, or feeling like they need a break from the scrolling addiction, I say do go and delete that account. You’ll be fine. You’ll be better off. You’ll be happier. You’ll be more productive. You’ll be more you.