2016 has been quite possibly the most ideologically heated and divisive year I have seen in my adult life. From a presidential campaign that, in my mind, has been more polarizing than most, conversations about subjects involving race, police brutality, and most recently, the sacredness of our national anthem have spawned bite size ideological stances all across the internet. Some of it productive and enlightening, most of it far less so.
My political and ideological views generally aren’t hard to find. A simple Google search will produce a wide array of articles, blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts clearly stating my world views. To be perfectly honest I’m pretty sure that my public opinions have cost me at least a couple jobs and business opportunities. C’est la vie. . . One thing I, and I assumed most everyone else on LinkedIn, understood as an unspoken rule was that this particular platform was not the space to launch into political and ideological diatribes.
In all my years of being on LinkedIn, 2016 represented two firsts for me. 1) I blocked a user for what I considered to be borderline racist posts (“Why is there no white version of BET?”), 2) I disconnected from a user for their insistence on using LinkedIn to promote their favorite candidate. These were things I never thought would be a part of my LinkedIn experience for the same reasons that we don’t (typically) don’t tolerate these behaviors in real-world work situations.
As someone who works in social media and has been fortunate to have the opportunity to have my writing appear on some desirable platforms, it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that everything we say is worth hearing regardless of context. It is why the majority of my writing has not and never will be posted on LinkedIn. Yes, I’m a writer. No, much of my writing isn’t suitable for this platform. Furthermore, I understand that everything that I think doesn’t need to be said, much less read and responded to.
Even from a dollars and cents standpoint, what is the upside to revealing to your hundreds and thousands of connections any particular reason to not like you? How good is your business at this moment that it is worth alienating half of the voting public or even worse an entire demographic? Deep down Bill Gates may very well be a horrible human being. All his philanthropic endeavors may be a clever ruse to make Microsoft the multi-billion dollar company it is today. The difference between you and Bill Gates? He’s feeding the poor while you ask why there aren’t more white people on Empire. Heck at the very least be as smart as John “Papa John” Schnatter and wait until you are so huge that your political opinion doesn’t affect your bottom line.
When it comes to controversial subjects or figures there are a few hard and fast rules I try to follow on LinkedIn
- Is this story relevant to my industry? 10 Social Media Posts That Deserve a Place in Your Content Calendar
- Can I post and discuss this without getting into a professionally inappropriate debate/conversation? Here’s Why Donald Trump’s Plan to Build a Wall Is Bogus
- Is my post going to offend someone on a personal level? The Politics of Lying White People and the Black People Who Bear the Burden
- Will anyone other than me even care about this? Some Dogs Are Terrible At Playing Hide And Seek
- Lastly, is this news or is it just my unfounded opinion on something that, in reality, I’m really not an expert in?
If I can’t check off these four things I let it go.
There are plenty of spaces for us all to trumpet and debate our personal opinions (feel free to argue with me on Twitter) but LinkedIn is a place of business, or at least it should be. So how about you tell me about your next big project, your last big sale or your latest job opening? We can talk politics at the bar later. First beer is on you.