LinkedIn is no place for trolls

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I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on my LinkedIn feed recently – with editorial being made in the comments that are quite disparaging of the person making the post. While hardly a proliferation yet, the increasing number of rude comments I am now seeing on other people’s posts that make it to my newsfeed is nevertheless disconcerting.

It will be a sad day if we see an explosion of the hurtful, thoughtless, and often plain ignorant comments that now appear on mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Twitter making their way onto sites such as LinkedIn that are aimed at professionals and business people.

I first noticed it during the recent Federal election, and while politics these days seems to stir frustration and anger, it’s simply unprofessional to express yourself in a way that reflects this, or belittles other people’s views, in a business environment.

But it is not just political posts that can incur wrath. A former colleague recently liked and shared a post and photo made by a young man she was connected with, commenting on his graduation from law school, as the first person in his family to attend university, and the hard road taken to achieve this. It was an uplifting and optimistic post that reflected well on the young man’s achievements. Astoundingly, another, older lawyer – who achieved his qualification from Sydney University in the 1970s – made extremely disparaging comments about this post. This said a lot more about him, then it did about the young man in question. This older lawyer was not someone in my LinkedIn network, and I can guarantee he will never be someone in my professional network in the future.

Sites like LinkedIn are, as the name suggests, designed to link professionals and business people and highlight their skills, achievements and interests. It has shown that it benefits its users through building relationships, expanding understanding of issues, and even assisting career progress.

So why would anyone want to show that they are rude, thoughtless, bullying individuals who can’t express themselves in a civilised, articulate way? Can’t they see that it raises questions about them as people to do business with or as employees?

As with all social media, what is said this week is there for a long time and can be seen by many more people than the writer ever envisaged. People posting comments should ask themselves a few simple questions before pressing the send button.

Questions such as: What will my present employer think of this? What will a future (as yet unknown) employer think? What will my clients think of this? Will the reader want to do business with me? Will this make me enemies? Will it attract damaging and emotional responses?

If a post makes you look unprofessional or ignorant, it’s best left unsaid. Especially if it’s written on the spur of the moment.

That doesn’t mean that thoughts can’t be posted in a way that shows an enquiring mind and a willingness to express a contradictory view. Just don’t be rude or disparaging of others. It’s just not a good look and you never know who you might be offending.

So, if in doubt, leave it out. Or at least if it’s written as a knee-jerk reaction to something you don’t like, walk away for a couple of hours before posting.