CEO's Teary Selfie a Symptom of 'Banal' LinkedIn

'Everyone's personal anecdotes sound like TED Talks for robots,' Slate's Shannon Palus writes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 3:53 PM CDT
Yes, the 'Crying CEO' Was Cringey. But So Is LinkedIn
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Mumemories)

The head of a social media marketing company recently took some flak for posting a "vulnerable" picture on LinkedIn, showing him in tears as he relayed how he had to lay off some of his workers. Braden Wallake has since issued an apology of sorts for his post as the "crying CEO," saying he didn't write it to "victimize myself"—but Shannon Palus writes for Slate that we probably shouldn't be so hard on Wallake. That's because even though Wallake's message seems to make the misfortune of his employees' job loss about himself, his post is "only slightly more embarrassing than your typical post in the LinkedIn news feed," Palus writes. In fact, she deems that portion of LinkedIn as being "really, really cringey," filled with "banal" anecdotes and platitudes that are supposed to be inspiring or instructional but often end up falling flat.

"On the social network for professionals, everyone's personal anecdotes sound like TED Talks for robots," she writes. And that's what makes any type of vulnerability like what Wallake showed seem odd and out of place, according to Palus—because when all is said and done, the site isn't about "human connection" at all, but about marketing oneself. The purpose of the "friends" you have on LinkedIn is "jobs, clients, and ultimately money." In other words, "the CEO's tears ... are baldly part of the CEO's hustle. ... The entire point of LinkedIn is that it's not personal—it's business." Read her piece in its entirety here. (More LinkedIn stories.)

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