August 11, 2022

The Rise of LinkedIn: Is It The New Facebook of the Professional World?

By: Nicole Levi

In the last decade, LinkedIn has gone from a niche online business community to a mainstream social media platform with over 700 million daily users. Founded in 2003, LinkedIn is a business website that allows users to network, post job opportunities and interact with their favorite brands and organizations. In a world that becomes more and more technology-focused every day, this platform makes it easy to connect with colleagues, share milestones and encourage friends on their job-hunt journey.

 Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid LinkedIn user and have made some great connections on the site, but I’ve noticed that I don’t always log off feeling connected or encouraged. As more features like private messaging, liking and commenting and profile views are added, it feels like the website is moving closer and closer to the social aspect of social media. Unfortunately, with that comes the same pitfalls as platforms like Facebook have. Some of these topics that I will reflect on in this post include the Self-Promotion Envy Spiral and the curse of comparison. 

As a college senior who is a month away from graduation, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. I look for possible employers to connect with, research organizations that I’m interested in and sometimes just scroll through my feed when I’m bored. Lately though, my feed hasn’t been filled with its usual content but instead, flooded with my classmates posting about the latest internship, job or post-college opportunity they landed. As I scroll through the posts and read through the hundreds of ‘congratulations’ comments, I feel excited for them, but I also feel other things too. I find myself walking away feeling jealous, worried and behind. It makes me second guess if I’m doing enough and if I should too, be posting my accomplishments and latest experiences for prospect employers to see. 

A study done called ‘An Exploratory Investigation of the Effects of Envy on Social Networking Sites among College-Age Users’ dives deeper into the actual phenomenon of the theory behind this idea: The Self-Promotion Envy Spiral. This theory says that the more you see and engage with posts about something positive or exciting that happened in someone’s life, the more dissatisfied you become with your own life. To combat this and cope with the envy, you then post positive and exciting things happening in your life, trying to match them, probably making someone else feel envious- the same feeling you felt about the other person’s post in the first place.

Essentially, we go on these platforms in our free time to benefit ourselves in some way, but end up feeling negative feelings when we walk away. This can be evident on websites like Facebook as well. Everyone knows that kind of Facebook user that boasts about their perfect life and perfect marriage and big life changes that are probably more exciting than you sitting on your couch browsing the internet. Taking this into consideration, LinkedIn is kind of the new Facebook of the professional world.

We get on LinkedIn to motivate ourselves to find a job or see what exciting things our friends are up to and leave feeling defeated by the job search and in the same way that people do with Facebook, fall victim to the curse of comparison. We begin to question our own skills, abilities and experiences. We worry if we’re doing enough volunteering in our free time or if we’ve had enough internships or relevant experiences to land us jobs. Comparison is the thief of joy and these websites do a great job at proving that true. 

This being said, instead of neglecting these websites completely, I encourage you to shift your perspective to ensure that you’re using them in a healthy way. Limit the amount of time you spend aimlessly scrolling on your feed, especially when you feel yourself falling down the Self-Promotion Envy Spiral or begin comparing yourself to others. Go on LinkedIn with a purpose, like finding someone to do an informational interview with or connecting with an old classmate, and stick to it. Most importantly, remember that you are on your own timeline. Life is not a race and everyone will have their own amazing experiences at different times!

15 thoughts on “The Rise of LinkedIn: Is It The New Facebook of the Professional World?

  1. Loved this post because of how relatable it is. It seems productive to bee on LinkedIn, but in reality it never really feels fulfilled. A lot of it does feel kind of fake to me, but either way, what a great resource to have.

  2. I loved your post because I’ve definitely found myself feeling the same way. Recently, I did see something on LinkedIn that combated this, and it was a woman who’s a UX Design Research Manager adding her experience as a waitress to her profile. She talks about how important and humanizing it is for a professional to add this to show that a career is never a straight line. Here’s the link to her post.

  3. What a great way to sum up how a lot of college seniors have been feeling! LinkedIn is supposed to be a site to help further my career, yet it often ends up making me feel inadequate by the time I log off. I really like the concept of it becoming more social – the profile views, IMing, etc. In that regard, I think some sites should stay as they are, rather than chasing the social media platform ideal.

  4. This is such a captivating and important read. Thank you for sharing especially at this point in the term as it feels like everyone around us has their lives figured out and comparison seems to be at an all time high. I find myself frequently scrolling through LinkedIn often out of habit, but as you mentioned in your post, I leave the site feeling so inferior to my classmates and connections. I know that the DM’ing function of LinkedIn has been extremely helpful in connecting with professionals and setting up informational interviews, but I never though about how LinkedIn is slowly turning into yet another social media platform that blurs the lines between connectivity and isolation. I wonder if they will turn towards some of the new features of Instagram and remove likes or filter out negative comments? Regardless I really enjoyed your post and really appreciate you bringing this topic to light!

  5. Hi Nicole,
    I loved reading your post and found it informative, especially for the soon-to-be grads! I agree with you that shifting the mindset is crucial, and I actually have done this and have noticed a huge improvement. I feel like your blog post should be required or at least talked about more in college.

  6. Nicole, as an avid LinkedIn user, this was a great blog to read! I loved this topic and your perspective of the way this platform has changed over time.

  7. I can really empathize with feeling anxious and behind after going on LinkedIn. I think there is a lot of pressure on us (PR majors in particular) to be networking and connecting every second of the day, so when things don’t go according to plan it is extra demoralizing. I feel like the pandemic has heightened some of these issues as well.

  8. Hi Nicole,
    I loved your title and think the comparison between LinkedIn being the new professional Facebook is spot on. Instead of updating my life on Facebook like I used to, I now update my life on LinkedIn to inform all the professional people to keep them updated on my most recent successes. I believe LinkedIn is the future ion professional networking and the platform will continue to grow and expand as more users enter and treat it as more of a social media platform than a professional networking environment.

  9. I really enjoyed reading your post and I can totally empathize with you. I think a lot of college seniors are caught up in wanting to celebrate their peers’ successes while also trying to navigate their own professional journey. LinkedIn is a great tool for creating a professional network however, just like any other social media platform, there are some drawbacks.

  10. Great post Nicole! I was very intrigued with your article because as a soon-to-be college graduate LinkedIn has become the social media platform that provides me the most stress. I have had to set personal limits to not look at my feed because I get overwhelmed by seeing my colleagues receiving job offers. I do turn to LinkedIn as my main source to find jobs to apply to, which I find helpful!

  11. This is a super relatable topic to me! I was never really told from anyone up until about a few months ago of how important LinkedIn was and all the functions to networking it offers. I felt super behind when I made mine, so I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one feeling uneasy. When you mentioned the part about scrolling and having that feeling of jealousy or guilt reminds me of just how similar LinkedIn could be to more “mainstream” social media platforms.

  12. Great post Nicole! I feel like most social medias are deep down not for me and only really distract me everyday. Linkedin however, has already helped me advance professorially in the real world. I feel that Linkedin will become even more important when I graduate from college.

  13. Personally, I feel that early-career professionals should be given a crash course to LinkedIn because it’s not a platform that is easily navigated. It’s a platform, like any other that you have to influence the algorithm by engaging with others but also sharing yourself. I personally, have gotten leads using LinkedIn and have used it to meet people in the fields I’m interested in or for getting a better understanding of specific career interests. I remember how overwhelming it was at first but as you continue to look around, it gets easier.

  14. As a fellow graduating senior, I too feel the same negativity when I log onto Linked In. Responding to your title, ” Is It The New Facebook of the Professional World?” I would have to say yes. Both of those platforms give users a chance to connect and post about their life. I believe that Facebook and Linked In both cause people to judge others and feel bad about themselves due to comparing oneself to others accomplishments.

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