This post started as an exploration of the creepiest places to hit on women, but in light of a few recent events, it turned into a brutal expose on the creepiest of all the social networks. And by expose I mean a rant spurred by my personal experiences on the site. As well as this shining example of why there’s no escaping dudes who feel it is their right to comment on the appearance of complete strangers.
Of all the online environments that should protect us from unwanted advances, LinkedIn would be it. It’s a place where we share our opinions on professional matters, regurgitating news we read earlier that week with a special air of self importance. Not where we showcase our hottest pictures and flirty quips.
I purposefully chose a less-than-attractive picture for my LinkedIn profile. Not that I’m so stunning it’s distracting, but having experienced walking on a public street past the age of 16, I know it doesn’t take much to “invite” comments. This conscious act in and of itself probably makes me a bit of wuss for changing my behavior based on the predicted actions of the male population. So, I probably have no right to be pontificating on this matter, but that’s never stopped me before so I’ll carry on.
I seldom post on LinkedIn, and when I do, it’s about mundane trends in content strategy and marketing. Nothing about my LinkedIn presence suggests that I may be open to dating. No, I don’t blatantly gush about the best husband ever #blessed.. Nor do I use a picture from my wedding as my profile pic. Because why ladies and gentlemen? That’s right because it’s a professional site and it would be unprofessional to use it to talk about my relationship status.
And, yet, despite making no effort to attract anything other than job offers in London, I’ve been approached for a date on LinkedIn. Just like many, many other women. And, like many, many other men doing the approaching, he was at least twice my age. So is it that these men are out of touch all the ideas that would lead one to the conclusion that it’s wrong to hit on women via LinkedIn? The technology may be unfamiliar, the idea of social networking foreign and feminism meant mommy wanted to go back to work as a secretary. This would create an understandable (though still antiquated as shit) perfect storm for these older not-so gentlemen.
That can’t exactly be it, either. There’s plenty of younger men who can’t get by on the good-old “oh that’s just grandpa, he grew up in a different time” excuse who are still virtually cat calling. So maybe the site itself is partially to blame. The Gizmodo article points out the People Also viewed feature that seems to take you down a click hole of attractive women rather than professionals with similar skill sets.
And then there’s the omniscient People You May Know.. Just today I had my first run in with suggestions that uncovered people from my distant and incredibly foggy past. LinkedIn suggested I connect with a guy I call Jason Tiger Sushi who I went on three dates with five years ago. He ghosted me before finalizing plans for a fourth. There was also a nice little Catholic boy who I met on eHarmony and never called little pseudo-protestant me after our first date. Finally, there was Sunni. The former neighbor who I’m pretty sure banged my ex boyfriend long before he was an ex.
These individuals all had a few commonalities in relation to me. We had zero connections of any degree. We work in completely different industries. We aren’t Facebook friends. With the exception of the Catholic boy, we’ve never connected in any digital format whatsoever. We hadn’t spoken in years. And, I hadn’t the faintest clue as to what their last name was before LinkedIn suggested I connect.
I understand this last bit doesn’t facilitate complete unknowns reaching out in the name of a pretty face, but it does make it easier for stalkers to find you and harder for them to forget you exist.
So what’s the solution? Does LinkedIn need to change its seemingly sinister practices? Answer: Yes. Even if it has nothing to do with protecting women from unwanted advances. They clearly had to sell their collective corporate soul to access some of these vague connections and should do penance to remedy their mistake as soon as possible.
But, the answer more rooted in reality is probably that people just need to start respecting women as professionals in the world. Professionals who desire and are good for more than looking great in a pencil skirt. We’re still allowed to do that, too, but we don’t need your comments, we know we look good. Now, tell us how amazing our 5-year strategy for expanding into the Asian market is or go the fuck home.