Hey LinkedIn, I’m beyond thrilled to offer you an exciting opportunity

What is “beyond thrilled”, anyway? Winning a tight match might be thrilling, skydiving too, even being exposed to a big, bold new idea. Scoring a new job might be relief in these tough times, when we’re no longer “seeking new opportunities”, but if these are thrills, they are cheap ones at best.

Just once I’d like to see someone be honest and say: “Well, I’ve lost my job but somehow managed to find another one and let’s hope it pays the mortgage before I retire, if I ever bloody retire.”

The unwritten code among your users – “if you pump up my tyres, I’ll pump up yours” – is ultimately deflating because it makes every interaction feel like a superficial reference check, rather than a real connection.

Then there are the regular creepy disclosures that people have been looking at one’s profile, but you will only let us know who if we sign up to premium.

For these good reasons, I have kept a wary distance from you, accepting connections without ever really committing to whatever it is you are.

I’ve been thinking about you while reading Alexandra Hudson’s new book, The Soul of Civility, which hones in on the important distinction between politeness and civility. Hudson argues politeness comes from the Latin source for “polish”, the act of skimming or smoothing over bumps to provide a shiny veneer. In contrast, “civility” is sourced from the word “civis”, the obligation of citizens to express their will in a fledging republic.


I think there is something quite profound and relevant for you, LinkedIn, in this distinction. We can be excessively polite without being civil. In fact, the two counterbalance each other.

So, here’s my challenge, LinkedIn. Is there a way we can agree to be a little less polite in the interests of increasing the levels of civility? Maybe loosen the tie, even put on some denim, as if it’s funky Friday.

Because, despite your unctuousness, you are home to a terrific network of people conditioned to be respectful, who trust the space by sharing their economic selves and professional identities.

There are some simple changes that might make you the perfect candidate for the job I have in mind. First, let’s stop with the reflective liking of everything. Can we accept that most people wish most people well in their next career move; and if we don’t, we agree to continue holding our tongues.


Second, let’s agree to post and scroll in moderation; let’s have some quality shares a few times a week; but let’s not have the app on our phone and let’s never post on the run or update on the can.

And finally, let’s see if we can’t make the space a little less smug and a little more curious, a place where we can embrace grey areas and challenge each other. Not to win arguments but to broaden them.

What do you reckon, Linked In? Are you up for a change to your current status? Because there’s a hole to be filled and the current field of candidates for this vacancy is pretty sparse. Applications are closing soon.

Peter Lewis is the executive director of Essential, a progressive research and communications company, and convenor at The Centre of the Public Square.

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