On The Contrary: Why LinkedIn Should Employ the Thought Police: A Case Study

Why LinkedIn Should Employ the Thought Police: A Case Study

-Written by Evan Hackler

A few months ago, I was perusing my daily LinkedIn feed and was elated when I found my unyielding thirst for lists to make my life super successful and meaningful, satiated. These are not the specific posts I encountered, but I do not doubt they exist somewhere deep in the bowels of the interweb:

“Five Steps to Transform into a Productivity Cyborg,” (I rather enjoy being human, but Cyborgs are pretty rad.)  Click

“19 Ways to be an Efficiency Monster,” (Getting over the initial confusion of why they couldn’t make it an even 20, it must have been more efficient to do so). Click

“7 Things Supermodels Look for in their Partners” (While seemingly deviating just a smidge from the laser-precision focus typical of LinkedIn user posts, I accept the clickbait). Click

Nothing could have prepared me for what I next laid my eyes on, an angel in the disguise of a young insurance salesperson, posted, “Elon Musk’s 6 Habits for Staying Insanely Productive.” I will preface what will ensue by admitting that:

1.     This is a real article, penned by a real human, employed by a real website, paying said writer to do so with real [devalued] currency.

2.     Nothing greases my gears more on a cold, winter Tuesday morning, than some high quality Elon Musk content.

My whole life up until this point had been spent on the tip of the iceberg. The tip, whilst small in size and mildly chilly, was one of comfort and familiarity – success, knowledge and high percentage interest accrual lay beneath. Elon Musk, visionary entrepreneur, global leader and fee raker [see PayPal], has uncharacteristically bequeathed six essential daily habits to a staff writer of the perennial list making INC.COM, to share with the world. To those not in the “know”, Inc.com, solely out of their love and respect for the purity of enterprise, compiles an annual list of the top 500 growing companies as a tribute to fine entrepreneurship and definitely not to gather free information on a large portion of the start-up market. I digress.

Finally, I was on the precipice of achievement and success, ready to summit and show the world how things are done, quelling any incoming resistance. It was my time, my deli counter ticket had been punched and I, at last, had found a way to circumvent the Citi Field Shake Shack line that is life. Ten million other people having access to the same information, at the same time, on LinkedIn, mattered little.  Click

Upon scanning the first page of the Holy Grail (application under review for submittal to the Library of Congress, a mere formality), I marveled at the minimalistic nature of the layout. With pictures of the photogenic Musk and a seemingly endless succession of up-market advertisements accounting for roughly 90% of the display, it became readily apparent that the carefully pruned text had flowed from the inkwell of a master wordsmith – for only a wordsmith of his ilk could so effectively capture the indispensable habits that have led to Mr. Musk’s success, in less than 40 words a page, on average.

Key #1“Master of E-mail”

Alright, well I wasn’t expecting to see e-mail emerge right from the get-go. E-mail efficiency is undoubtedly deemed vital to the business matrix, but I’ll continue to wade through the waters of #1. Let’s see how he does it.

“Avoid phone calls whenever possible.” Inspiring. Now this is what I was waiting for, finally, straight from the source – engage in as little, real interpersonal communication as possible, and, instead, send electronic correspondence. Mom’s birthday, e-mail. Girlfriend broke her heel, face planted on a curb outside Grand Central, e-mail. Potential employer calls you for a follow-up interview, hit the f** you button and write yourself some self-liberating electronic mail. I am one hundred percent committed to not-committing.

Let’s see some secondary and tertiary points backing this brilliant nugget of business gold: “’I am very good at email,’ Elon HAS JOKED. ‘That’s my core competency.’” End of #1. Literally. Not only did this muse of the electronic pen fail to bestow upon my mental anything even remotely resembling a “lesson” or “tip", he blatantly resigns, or strongly suggests, that, his “journalism”, or CTRL+V degree, is not based on any percentage of real journalism at all. He did not speak with Elon. Remember that Elon eschews all telecommunication because he’s a level 80 e-mail warrior, who has no time for talking on the phone and exclusively buys companies that he is already chairman of [see Solar City].

Disclaimer: I really do love Elon Musk – we could all benefit from more idealism and less cynicism fueled polemics, precisely like the one you are reading.

I believe in redemption, so I gave “Mr. Staff Writer” another shot at the title – by clicking the next arrow for KEY #2. After initially being rerouted to a website championing indecent exposure and other anti-puritanical values, having swapped the “ss” in Brassieres for “zz’s”, I decided to move forward.

Key #2 “Inaccessible on Purpose”



After my return from my local parish’s confessional, I braced myself to dive further into what I originally thought was my golden ticket out of writing scathing commentaries about the missteps of society.

Key #3 “Always Multi-tasking”

“Musk conducts business on his phone during meetings. He also sends texts with his children on his lap.”

As I myself have been multi-tasking by moving all my assets into one account and getting my affairs in order, due to my sudden loss of faith in humanity, spurred by reading less than 150 words of a top google hit, I fear I do not possess the wherewithal to move any further with my analysis. I’ll fill you-in on the last three, however. “Optimize Agenda," “Understanding Why”, and “Sleep”.

It is crucial I note that this article really did appear on my feed, bare and devoid of anything new or insightful. I completed the trek across the content, did not hire the Native Americans, and made it to my destination having been robbed of my most precious commodity [time] by assailants in the surrounding brush. So, what was next? What was there to do? Ah, yes – bring the wrath of a thousand plagues via my 1st Amendment right to comment on a LinkedIn post. Now, I did not know this younger lady, our grandmothers do not bump into each other in the supermarket, and I couldn’t even trace her back to Kevin Bacon – but she needed to know the extreme repercussions of the mental terrorism afoot. After-all, I’m mostly only on LinkedIn to have people I have never met critically evaluate my ability to draft a functioning spreadsheet.

It was time to act. Without hesitation I notified the young insurance upstart of my not so subtle feelings on the matter. It went something like this, “While [fighting the urge not to use “whilst”] the points brought up are not inherently useless, I find the article to speak largely of accepted generalities and is, overall, quite vapid.” Bomb planted [NSA – this is figurative speech].

Maybe not even fifteen minutes henceforth, a new charitable donation furnished my largely barren inbox. Much to my surprise, the enterprising young lady had indeed responded with notable alacrity – the kind of quickness almost always characterized by bitterness and resentment, certain to end in a duel. My adrenaline pumping, I open what I thought would be an olive branch laden with sharp thorns and enveloped in poison.

“Mr. Hackler [Damn right.], thank you for sharing your thoughts with me [….>!@!!?]. I re-read the article and have to agree that it is not very insightful. I have taken the post down and will now think twice about what I share on LinkedIn [my mouth agape, probably not breathing, I am utterly motionless and speechless all at once].”

No moment in my time spent policing the interweb in a troll costume was more worthy of quoting Johnny Drama’s “VICTORY!!!”

…But alas, this was not my reaction. I am currently experiencing chills just recounting the experience. This young woman had taught me a lesson in humility – she is a better human than me. Her ability to machete her way through a rather aggressive comment and respond with such grace, exuding qualities one cannot learn in school, left me with a loin-deep euphoria – not out of self-righteousness, but from the uplifting synergy resulting from the exchange. Sure, she probably thinks I am a pompous dick, and she’d be not so off-base by opining such, but I never caught wind of any form of negativity, whatsoever.

On this Friday afternoon, let us be thoughtful and think before we post on LinkedIn. It is a professional networking service for people engaging or attempting to engage in business related matters. It is supposed to be a happy place, where constructive feedback frolics gleefully with human inspiration. It is not a networking service for the proliferation of e-manure, which we continuously are subjected to and forced to sift through like we are looking for a child’s baby tooth. There are no short-cuts to Midas’ Kingdom. Find yourself a mentor, throw yourself into unknown sectors [not financial markets] and learn from experience. Read legitimate news and articles from legitimate sources. Go forth and prosper and if you are unsure whether you should post something, DON’T.