Thursday, April 4, 2013

Top Six LinkedIn FAILS

According to LinkedIn, I can now call myself a graphic designer!

I don’t just mean LinkedIn fails, I mean how LinkedIn fails us, as a society.

I’ve been frustrated with LinkedIn.

I’d like to berate LinkedIn for some less-than-stellar interactions I’ve had. (Case in point: here are my search results for “Steve Lewis Seattle”. Yes, it’s a common name, so why do the results include “Kelly Fetters” and “Kim McCoy”? It also doesn’t recognize “strategize” as a word, which is really weird since that word is so trendy).

But I’ll just admit that’s probably more due to my lack of tech savvy than LinkedIn’s technical flaws.

No, LinkedIn’s technical flaws -real or imaginary- are the least of its problems.

LinkedIn wants to be the go-to site of the professional world, and that’s a huge problem.
I recently graduated with a Master of Public Administration from a prestigious university; the first question from all four career advisors about my job hunt was “How’s your LinkedIn profile”?

My program had seminars devoted to LinkedIn and improving your profile. It’s fair to say that all four of those advisors were dependent on LinkedIn. Over-dependent, even.

When I say that LinkedIn fails, I don’t mean in the trendy way, “these are the top five biggest LinkedIn failures”. My critique of LinkedIn is deeper: LinkedIn’s failures aren’t with its platform; LinkedIn fails US, as a society.

Here’s how: LinkedIn likes to think of itself as “Facebook for Adults”, but its practices and policies are far more juvenile than Facebook. Even worse, it re-introduces practices that we as a society deemed long ago as bad. Very, very bad.

6. The Fluff Factor

LinkedIn’s current model promotes over-promotion and self-aggrandizement, which are somewhere between horrible and lousy traits in an employee. LinkedIn is essentially all the flaws of the job search process distilled down to one very lousy website. LinkedIn unnecessarily narrows based on criteria that are likely utterly unimportant or possibly detrimental for a job.

5. In LinkedIn, everyone is tech-savvy.

As I stated above, I’m not the most technically sophisticated guy. Tech has nothing to do with the jobs I’ve had or the jobs I’m looking for. But that doesn’t matter to LinkedIn: I have to come across as a tech-whizz or else I’m unqualified for the job. 

4. LinkedIn’s promotional tactics don’t match its air of maturity and professionalism.

LinkedIn recently prompted me to endorse my connections. Regardless of whether or not my endorsements are valid (I really don’t know how some of my classmates are at graphic design or fundraising), I found the exercise both ingenious and shallow. Ingenious for starting a efficient social media trend; shallow for being hollow, juvenile attempts at self-promotion.

Juvenile is fine for Facebook (which doesn’t pretend it’s anything but FB), but obviously not if you’re trying to be “adult” and “professional”.

3. LinkedIn’s paid-membership model is disingenuous.

I can imagine reasons for having different levels of membership, but the basic free level pretty much sucks.

For example, I can see a few of the people who viewed by profile recently, but not all -unless I’m a paid member!

I can contact some people out of my network, but not all, unless I’m a paid member!

Actually, I’m not sure what I can do for free, everything clogs up in the hope that I’ll upgrade to a paid member.

In fact, there’s a whole realm of services you can do on FB for free that you can only do on LinkedIn if you’re a paid member, which puts me in the very awkward position of defending Facebook: at least it doesn’t force you to pay for basic services.

The words that come to mind are “disingenuous” and “trickery”. Again, not qualities usually attributed to “professional” and “adult”.

I’ll throw another word with much trepidation: Elitist. It forces you to join a club merely based on your ability to pay.

2. LinkedIn fails the non-profit sector.

Part of me wonders if it’s not just a conflict of natures: I’m a bleeding-heart community type of guy dedicated to making the world a better place, usually done through non-profits.

LinkedIn, conversely, was developed by for-profit business types for for-profit business types, the type for whom ‘trickery’ and ‘elitism’ are just part of business.

It puts me in the uncomfortable position of thinking that these are purposefully designed class divisions, false and unjust social classifications that I’m pretty good at avoiding, except when I’m on LinkedIn.

It all wouldn’t be a problem if LinkedIn were uniquely for and by the for-profit community; unfortunately, as I stated earlier, I’m in the non-profit/public sector, and LinkedIn is the #1 tool promoted by the career development center at my graduate school. Here are the results for Catholic Community Services, a large nation social-service organization. (For those who don’t want to be bothered with opening a link, the answer is ONE, the branch in New South Wales, Australia). 

I’ve found Catholic Community Services to be the best of example of what’s endemic with non-profit social service/public sector agencies and employers: none of them are on LinkedIn (or have a very minimal presence). And why should they be? LinkedIn’s business model and promotional tactics are antithesis of the public sector. Which leaves aspiring do-gooder public servants in an awkward limbo.

1. LinkedIn: Back to the headshot.

Remember the days when a job resume included a professional headshot and your marital status?

Neither do I, because that became professionally unacceptable decades ago.

Luckily, LinkedIn is here to wrong that right! Professional headshots are all but mandatory.

At the very least, it puts employer into that awkward position that they might be construed as judging potential employers by their looks; while potential employees (especially the overlooked and rejected ones) thinking they didn’t get the job because of their looks.

Or, just to state the obvious, “looks” can include race, color, age and/or “sexiness”.


LinkedIn is social networking at its worst: disingenuous, money-grubbing and perfect for the discriminating employers.

That’s probably why so few of my non-profit friends and social service organizations are on here. 

We’re not in it for the money, we don’t trick people, and we’re actively working against discrimination.

I just wish it wasn’t the current tool of choice for career counselors in the non-profit and public sector.

Maybe if LinkedIn went back to its roots, focused on delivering a quality service, stopped Myspace-cerca-2006 promotional tactics, and not only acknowledged that not everyone is in it for the money, but offered services for nonprofit organizations (like have a category for “organizations”, not just “companies”), it would be worth call itself “Facebook for adults”. 

Until then, I’m going to stick with Facebook for all my networking and job hunting needs, as at least I know what I’m getting into. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Stuff White People Like

I recently re-read "Stuff White People Like". It's a little bitter, a little too close to home, but I thought I'd add a few things.

First off: Created worlds/universes with only white people in it. In the scifi vein that brought us "black guy dies first" another trait of white people is scifi/fantasy scenarios with only white people in it

I don't really want to get into a thesis of race relations in the US, or a history of racial and classist oppression, or say something like "of course race is an artificial construct perpetuated by a dominant class of rules to ensure that the masses are divide cause as Lao Tzu said, divide is conquered. Or anything like that. 
I just want to point out the long laundry list of movies/tv with only white people in it, or effectively only white people. There may by nonwhite actors, but most reflect tokenism or are just coincidently not white. 

Star Wars: Lucas caused an uproar among the secret racists when he cast Billie dee Williams. Luckily, lando was a back stabbing traitor.  I will also not try to read jar jar as a metaphor on race relations, as that would insult everyone's intelligence. Only white people in this universe, except the ewoks. What's worse just sayin there are only white people in this universe, or reading ewoks, jawas, and jar jar as racial groups. 

Serenity: In this created universe, society is the result of US and China dominance, yet there are no Asians in the series. Odd. 

Lord of the Rings: If LotR is a giant metaphor for pre-WWII Europe, then the different "races" obviously represent the different "races" in Europe. The elves are the Scandinavians, dwarves are French, men are English, hobbits are obviously Welsh and orcs German. Of course they're all white, a reflection of Tolkien's view that sadly has survived in his movies.

Game of thrones: not much difference with LotR, purely a white universe.  Even Esteroos is white people. The Dothraki are an attempt of portraying another 
Every lotr type of movie

Notable exceptions

Star Trek was revolutionary for many reasons, above all portrayal of race relations and proper use of scifi as a metaphor for modern society. First bi-racial on screen kiss. Can't fault it. 

Avatar: almost unique in scifi, avatar is a parallel to race/ethnic conflict. It is essentially an ethnogist's fantasy: exotic race of people attacked by whites, but they fight back and win. It's like Custers last stand, but with a happy ending. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Flight 2344 from Hailey

American Classism in Ten Parts on a plane 

The waiting room highlights the frontlines of American class warfare.
In my movie they'd all be aliens.
Or half would be aliens laughing at the other half  
for trying so hard but remaining irreversibly human.
Stereotypes flame dramatically and out of control:
fur coats in the 21st century
every nose in the air
a gallery of plastic surgery disasters
the stench of privilege 
pushy, impatient, permanently tanned.
as if everyone else has a purpose of servitude
and theirs a god-granted entitlement
Their sex infrequent, catatonic and quickly cleaned.
They quickly jump to judgment and assume I’m an anarchist.
They abhor me almost as much as they loathe themselves.


An aging blonde bitching about her mother  
hides her right arm in a gold-broached black shawl
"I just had surgery" she chides, "and I have this brand new mascara.  
Mother, don't you have a plastic bag to put it in?”
She turns to me
eyes dropping from under her designer sunglasses, 
sadder than all the dead puppy dogs in her fur coat,
“Do you have a plastic bag?”
Sorry ma'am.
I flaunt the new FAA regulations
and never plastic-bag my toiletries
and pass unbothered with a nod from the blue-collared  
brothers in sweat 
behind the security system. 

Don’t tell them I prefer soccer 
And am turning our exchange into a poem.


The token non-rich inclusion
a mother-daughter combo,
he younger in tight jeans  
the older with a neglected mullet
obviously from Bellevue
-which in this state is a cinder-block farming community
where once wild camas bloomed.
Younger talks with muted excitement
of the latest internet rage,
a place she revers as "my space".
Ma nods attentively,  
focused on her knitting
which is pink and fluffy and looks to fit a mutted poodle
...and you have this page called profile...
...where you can put in your picture and list your favorites...
uh-huh music and movies and the only people who can see it are your friends because you have to add them...
...and they have videos like you tube, but I don't use you tube...
uh-huh, really? That's nice.

The entitlement on this plane is suffocating
though that could just be a fault of the ventilation system.
I'm sure everyone here is friendly and I've met them all before
-not personally, of course, cause "their kind" and "my kind" never interact
except for extreme instances, like the forced tennis lessons of your youth, 
ma’s lear-jetting boyfriend, 
his coke-snorting 13 year old SoCal nephews.
They're unsettled that this plane  
-a 19-row puddle jumper from a major resort in Idaho-
has no first class,
but slightly comforted that everyone here 
–except for me, the mother/daughter from the trailer park of inbreds–  
is of the same "kind".
They'll watch each other's back cause  
you know how the rich are
always conspiring to oppress the masses! 

The thirty sumptin' brunette across the aisle
whom I used to date and in a moment of intimacy
confided the definitions of upper middle class:
comfort being waited on/served
justified impatience 
days filled with hurried frivolous trivialities
a sense of deserving
believing some things are theirs not to share
ease with demanding
forced and faked pleases and thank yous
true and everlasting love with a knight in well-named armor
–or I'll kill the mother fucker with my own jealous-addled hands–
that brunette sighed. 

This one asks the flight attendant to fill two separate nalgene bottles
to the 12oz mark in the white one
to the 16oz mark in the pink.

A perfectionist suburban cheerleader
plus 20 regrettable [forgettable/unavoidable] years 
two young children painlessly birthed
and a matching Aryan husband
-evidently the quarterback
in identical highlights
skin look like it'll fall off in plated sheets
and wrinkles  
–necessary side affects that can be botoxed away–
push their way forward
“Are you in line?” to the front of them.
“Are you in line?” to the right of them.
“Are you in line?” to the left of them.
They project a no and ignore all the yeses.

The flight attendant has straight dark hair
and reminds me of my cousin
without that peppy, optimistic outlook on life
her contempt for the rich smeared in a sneer
obvious to us  
oblivious to them
She curses HR for assigning her this shift
back and forth, back and forth, back and forth
waiting on hands and knees 
gins and tonics 
just too colds and just not rights
and occasionally wiping asses
She's customized the safety routine
to cover her spite
and resembles a playful mime
Her smile is as forced as it is wide 
covering every “fuck you” 
uttered between clinched teeth 
with every instruction
to the clueless and pampered clientele
She's cute and fit and jadedly single
to the point she no longer wears a decoy ring
but welcomes the pitiful, pathetic, and predictable come-ons.
It confirms her prejudices and gives her reason to loathe  
and that empowers her,  
to the point that when she does fuck one of them,  
she knows she will triumph like a goddess.
it will be brief and in a mansion and she will have to do all the work,
but at least she knows that in the most essential aspect of humanity
they fail and she will be worshipped.

On this flight immediately to my left
is a propeller so furious, it’s backwards
I could reach out and touch it
if not for the fiberglass walls 
aluminum shell
350-mile an hour velocity
thirty thousand feet.
On better days I imagine a freak accident
the propeller coming off
searing through the cabin 
splitting me in half
The cut, oddly, is precise
down my upper torso, a laser-smooth line
down between my ears and jaw 
but no one finds out  
due to the ensuing carnage 
fire consumes all evidence
Death and instantaneous and to the others
god bless
At least I’d die under
a full moon
At least in my final writings I say
I love you mom.
At least in my final writings I say
I love you dad.
At least in my final writings I say
I love you Honey.
At least in my final writings I say
I love you... laundry list of indirect relatives and
lost friends long out of touch
and long lost lovers with unrequited feelings
and the pets of my childhood
and ancient ancestors
and major religious figures
and role models and childhood heroes
-except for Terry Bradshaw, as he turned out Republican-
and... Well, I guess that freak accident ain't gonna happen.

In the pexiglass window to the lethal propeller
I see the reflecting blue glow
of the woman behind
working on a laptop
I suspect an iBook and I wonder what she's working on.
Coincidentally, a blonde-bobbed mom cradling
an adopted Chinese two-year-old
stops by to check in
"how's work going?"
the child is listless, deadened from the vibrations of two propeller
and 25 thousand feet.
My computer's freaking out
replied the disembodied author
The mom banters
she passed earlier and it took a fraction of  second
-one tenth, to be exact-
to place her variant on the social-economic totem pole,
low-maintenance bob, ass like pancakes
the epitome of the NPR listening liberal
Dave Matthews and Jewel (still)
heavily literary, she's read everyone who matters, unlike me, like Alice Munro
who I loathe cause one story I read
dwelled on the imaginary trials of the rich
but she's famous and goddessly, if a creative non-fictionesse can goddessly be,
according to another aspiring creative non-fictionesse confided to me.  And who am I? Not even a teacher, though that's what I lie.  Struggle to pay rent, a practitioner of hypocrisy,
a class-warfare realist/analyst
an NPR loather/supporter
struggling to reconcile conflicting privileges
the privilege of education
the privilege to travel
to see suffering
and to try doing something about it.
The privilege of class consciousness
to mix with all and empathize with the powerless and loathe the elitists
the privilege of memory
though often late and weakened too much to do anything about it.
A good fuck who could -and would like to sometime- seduce a nun 

(provided she's a hot one)
wittily intellect
struggling speller
who could sell himself like a sweet talking lemon.

I seek a peek at the computer behind
a geeky blonde complete with tapped glasses
sisters perhaps to the adopted mom
and I quickly deduct the academic class
like remoras they shadow the elites
and a planeload of them would not be complete
without a bespeckeled, besweatshirted MFA student finalizing her thesis
on someone useless and relevant to only the overeducated
on another flight I’d seduce her
and release her own inner demons
release her regretful inhibitions
that won't be explained with a master's thesis
but alas this flight is landing
I think that's red apple below me.