Written By: Spencer Hamilton
*Caution, there is some language in this post that may not be suitable for everyone. They are real, 100% accurate messages and quotes from contributers to this article.
“Baby sugar candy, you would do the world a favor by changing your profile pic to one of you topless. If you want to remain in my trusted circle, you will send me a picture like this I request.” (Anonymous)
Are you comfortable with that?
“How can you dress like that in your profile picture and not expect to get questions asking you out? I mean, you are asking for it with that shirt and haircut. I am lonely. Get naked.” (Anonymous)
How about that?
Social media has exploded into our way of life. It is the single most effective avenue to get information out, or in, but what comes along with the freedom of a keyboard is the growing epidemic of inequality amongst human beings.
*Messages like these indeed happen across all social media platforms, but for the purpose of this article I want to take a look at the inequality many feel is out of control on LinkedIn specifically.
I became fascinated with inequality at a young age. It was something that never made any sense to me, because to me, a person is a person. There are males andfemales in the world and we all occupy the same space. We breathe the same air. We compete for the same rights and privileges. We all have to eat, sleep, and find our own unique place in the world.
To me, we are the same.
To so many other people, we are completely different.
This is where inequality lives. It lives in cultural barriers and age discrimination. It lives in unequal pay across the board (See Microsoft CEO recent comments on equal pay here.) It lives in social events that have become the norm (wet t-shirt contests, websites that promote grading oneself on simple attractiveness of various body parts, etc.)
Most importantly, inequality lives in ignorance.
Inequality is a phenomenon that is not new. It has been in full force ever since the creation of mankind, and is not likely to ever go away. What I, and so many others that I polled, find appalling is how this inequality has bled into the very avenues we wish to protect it from.
LinkedIn is one of them. And from the results of my research, it is one of the biggest offenders.
So what’s the point?
“The world is full of people who don’t understand jokes,” – Anonymous.
- Yes, this was actually said to me while researching this post.
The point is simple. You are right; people don’t understand your jokes…because this type of thing isn’t a joke.
Of the many women and men who responded and contributed to this article, it was abundantly clear to me that messages of a discriminatory nature are so commonplace on LinkedIn (and elsewhere) that they are often times laughed off.
“If only your picture was you in a bikini, I might actually do business with you.” – Anonymous
What was also made very clear to me are the instances where they are not laughed off. These instances are shown to have a lasting impact on the person’s profession, their psyche, and even their family life. These instances are way more common than you and I realize, and it has become a very serious matter.
If you have never received messages like these before, consider yourself in the minority. If you have received messages like these, consider this:
*Are you now less comfortable making connections on LinkedIn out of fear of discrimination?
*Are you now less comfortable in a real world social setting where you are approached in person? Do you now revert back to said messages and apply that to all people, thus holding you back from a lasting and meaningful business or personal relationship when someone is standing in front of you?
* Are you now constantly cautious in all phases of your life? Has it impacted you so deeply that all you can think about is your outward appearance?
If you answered yes to these, you are not alone.
Out of the 57 conversations I had on this topic with various professionals of all genders, 43 of them said they take great offense and often think about the various inappropriate messages in their personal lives.
For those math gurus, that is 75%.
In my sample size (albeit a small sample) 3 out of 4 people on LinkedIn face an increasing level of inequality and discrimination from others. Of this sample, about half of them have considered deleting their LinkedIn profile entirely, although it is doing excellent things for their business, due to the increased and continued harassment.
If these stats held true for all LinkedIn’s members, consider this:
There are approximately 300 million users of LinkedIn worldwide – SOURCE
Of that, 56% are male and 44% are female – SOURCE
There are 2 new profiles every second, and LinkedIn has a reach to over 200 countries – SOURCE
If these stats stayed true, LinkedIn would have 225 million profiles (yes, men and women) who are receiving discriminatory messages on a regular basis.
If half of those people actually felt like, and went ahead with deleting their accounts, LinkedIn would lose approximately 112 million users.
- I understand my research on this is very limited, the stats are speculative, etc. etc. but it puts a lot of things into perspective.
I am not a preacher. It is not my intention to scold people with this post, nor to berate them with any sort of self-righteous ideology. I am merely looking for a reason.
Why do you feel the need to introduce yourself to anyone in these ways?
Really think about that…why are you sending messages and requests like that? Do they work for you? Is it something that is normal in your culture? For your age? For your gender?
(Please discuss in comments below)
What has come clear to me in writing this post with the help of several LI connections is that it doesn’t work. It is not your culture. It is not your age. It has nothing to do with your gender.
It is your ignorance.
The old adage “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me” is completely false. You are hurting people with your words. People who joined and are frequent users of a professional business website are receiving the same sort of violating dialogue as you can find on websites like Tinder or RateMyFace. This is not the place for it.
“Just one last thing Mr. ***, if I can show you that I have no gag reflex, would you offer me the position?” – ANONYMOUS
The road to equality is similar to space, in that there is no way for a human to comprehend the vastness of it. It digs deep, deeper than you can imagine, and no two people are the same in how they handle it. With all of the war, political unrest, famine and racial tension in the world, it would be nice to have a professional website free of the same insidious culture.
You can’t end war or feed the hungry, but you can make a difference to someone with the words you choose. You may not feel there is anything wrong with what you say, but you are wrong. It is a big deal.
Watch the video below:
He makes some great points, eh?
About the Author: Spencer Hamilton is an Assistant Vice President and Banking Center Manager for Community Banks of Colorado in Denver, CO.
This article was published on LinkedIn. Republished with permission. To view the original click here.
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