Social media has gained immense popularity ever since its inception in 1996. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the use of digital technology which has caused the number of users on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to increase substantially. In fact, there are over 4.48 billion active users as of July 2021 which means more than 50% of the world is now on at least 1 social media platform. Henceforth, in a world where technology is clearly ubiquitously interwoven with society, social media is a prominent instrument capable of moulding and influencing people’s minds, behaviours and self-perception for better and for worse.
So, let’s talk about LinkedIn!
LinkedIn was first established in 2003 and is a professional social networking site. The social media platform has been growing quietly throughout the years and currently has over 810 million users in more than 200 countries. Similar to other social networks, LinkedIn also enables users to create an online profile (without any signup costs), build a network of connections and directly communicate with their contacts. However, in order to serve exclusively to professionals, LinkedIn facilitates its users to search for job opportunities, look up businesses in all sectors, upload résumé details in their profiles, and give or receive recommendations. We found out that more than 87% of recruiters utilise LinkedIn to find new employees while 79% of marketers rely on the site to find a sizeable amount of leads for their business. Despite the fact that LinkedIn offers a number of benefits for its users, it also has the capacity to foster negative feelings for its users just like any other social media platform.
LinkedIn and its impact on self-esteem
Instagram and Facebook may seem to get all the glory when it comes to comparison spirals but LinkedIn can be just as bad. While other social media platforms display how much more fun everyone else is having, LinkedIn posts publicise how successful people are in their respective fields and careers in comparison to you. We essentially get to see our peers post a highlight reel of their amazing accomplishments and opportunities. While there is nothing wrong with flaunting one’s success, using the platform to measure your own worth can be detrimental.
According to the social comparison theory, fathered by psychologist Leon Festinger (1954), we humans have an innate drive to compare ourselves to others to assess our progress/worth. When we make what he deems as “upward” comparisons, we evaluate ourselves against people we feel inferior to. This leaves lingering feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. On a platform like LinkedIn where everyone’s profiles are usually public and rather easy to access, it is hard to not make these “upward” comparisons and feel insecure about ourselves as well as our own professional milestones. While people are very willing to share that one good achievement, not many will be brave enough to share their own failures.
A study conducted on young adults and the impact LinkedIn usage had on their mental health supported the hypothesis that frequent use of the platform had links with an increase in depression and anxiety. A majority of young adults have also stated that when too much time is spent on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, they end up feeling stressed out and inadequate because they feel as if they do not measure up to their peers. Furthermore, individuals have mentioned that LinkedIn premium is even more detrimental to their mental health as it allows users to view the job applicants and their skillsets when applying for jobs. This allows more room for self-comparison and feelings of deficiency.
Hustle culture and imposter syndrome
It is no surprise that many of us frequently experience bouts of self-doubt and symptoms of imposter syndrome, in this day and age. We have come to live in a world where hustle culture has become the norm (thanks to self-help gurus) and our success seems to be based on how busy we are or how many qualifications we have achieved in a short span of time.
LinkedIn provides the perfect space for us to feel like we are not doing enough. The hustle culture is very visible on the platform and it is quite hard not to get sucked into the realm of “Rise and Grind”. There is a consistent push to promote professional highlights; showcasing promotions, the acquisition of new certificates, joining a new company, exciting career changes, etc. It is a career rat race that keeps prodding us to be a better version of our work self.
While there is nothing wrong with striving for more and pushing ourselves, it is important to be mindful of our own capacity. Extreme cases of hustle culture can be counterproductive; studies have shown that working longer hours are associated with poorer mental health and increasing levels of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the hustle culture on LinkedIn can amplify the imposter syndrome; seeing the achievements of various individuals in our network can put a damper on our mood, lower our self-esteem and let self-doubt creep in.
So how can we maintain our mental health and self-esteem on LinkedIn?
A platform like LinkedIn can be overwhelming but it is also a useful tool when it comes to networking, learning new skills, drawing in inspiration and quite obviously finding job opportunities. So completely ditching it may not be the best idea.
Instead, we encourage individuals to look at the following tips below to utilise LinkedIn optimally without putting our mental health at risk.
- Regulate your time online or go on a digital detox – The saying “Too much of anything is good for nothing” applies here. Prolonged time spent on social media can leave you with feelings of deficiency. Therefore, limiting your screen time or even taking a break from LinkedIn can stop you from making comparisons, help better your self-esteem and lower stress levels.
- Be mindful and do not doomscroll – In order to use LinkedIn optimally and effectively, you must be aware of what kind of impact it may have on you and your mental health. Recognising how LinkedIn induces anxiety may be the best way to re-approach how you use it. If you can feel bouts of self-doubt or inadequacy creeping into your mind – close the app and stop the doomscrolling immediately.
- Curate your feed – You have the power to choose the content that you consume, so choose wisely. Be mindful of what challenges you and what makes you feel inadequate. If you feel like your mental health is not doing well then take some time to audit your timeline. You can do this by following accounts that make you feel your best self or make your mental health better and removing accounts that make you feel bad or prompt constant comparison.
- Cut yourself some slack and do not fall for the hype – Do keep in mind that everyone on LinkedIn is trying to present their best professional selves and so it’s quite easy to feel like other users are more successful and talented than you are. But that is not the case. Users are simply sharing content that is specifically designed to make them look good to their potential employees and customers, so try and not to let it get to your head. It is completely fine to move at your own pace!
- Ask for help when you need it – The online realm can be both overwhelming and emotionally exhausting. If you do find yourself not feeling your best then do seek help from your support systems. Talk to them and let them know what you are going through.
The most important takeaway is that you should always prioritise your health and well-being over pursuing an abstract concept of success. The reality is, regardless of how successful you may be, there will always be someone better than you on LinkedIn because everyone has their own definitions of success and you can never measure up to all the different manifestations of it.
Our team at Rocket firmly believes that taking care of your mental health should always be your priority and we are more than happy to support you through it. Being on social media for long periods of time is a daunting task, but also one that is unavoidable when you are trying to make sales and find leads for your business. To make things easier for you, we are here to take LinkedIn lead generation completely off of your hands.
Interested? Drop us a message and we will get in touch 🙂