LinkedIn is my favourite social network. No, I’m not kidding. Even though I hang out mostly on Twitter, LinkedIn has a special place in my heart. It is not like other social networks.
Twitter is full of stupid, loud, entitled, angry and entitled Millennials who are mad at Boomers. Facebook is full of stupid, loud, angry and entitled Boomers who are mad at Millennials. LinkedIn has both: stupid and angry Boomers and Millennials who, whilst yelling at each other on Twitter and Facebook, are also on LinkedIn, where they’re all forced to behave, because they have to co-exist in meat space. With sexy results.
Gen X, all but forgotten, just hang and laugh at the stupid, angry chaos, because we hate both Millennials and Boomers and see that they’re ultimately the same agents and defenders of the status quo and are only in a fight to the death to run it. (Gen Z are off doing fuck knows, but entertain Gen X with their zero fucks).
Where other social platforms have a slight glimmer of sympathy, and pay lip service to, the working class and the disadvantaged, LinkedIn’s mission is clear: you are capital’s bitch, and if you want to eat, you’ve gotta play along. It’s… refreshingly honest.
Every day on LinkedIn, you see a rich kid who is winning awards for their “achievements” for doing the bare minimum. Hustle-bros who scam people, live with their parents, and call it “merit”. Woke Billionaires telling us that they really do super care about inequality, because look at my beard and jeans, not my actions. And definitely don’t look under the hood of my business. Look over there.
Don’t forget that you, too, can make a difference like me, if you just slept a bit less and just decided to be less poor, more male, and went to an Ivy League University and stopped being so negative. Poor people are so negative all the time. Why are you complaining so much? Don’t you know I’m a Forbes 30 Under 30 winner and why haven’t you looked at my jeans?
LinkedIn is capitalism’s most brazen bullshit, in all its glory, on tap. I love it. Everyone mostly existing in a structure that none of us want, but all of us perpetuate, because it’s just …easier. Ironically, LinkedIn is more human than any other platform, and culminates in a fascinating phenomenon that I call “capitalist cope”: thinking you can capitalism your way out of problems that are caused by capitalism by simply ignoring it.
LinkedIn is like jumping out of a plane, face first and then asking gravity to maybe be a little less negative as it pulls you toward the ground at 100 miles an hour. It’s funny. And delusional.
LinkedIn is a 24/7 capitalist cope machine, mask off, for all to see, and Human Resources professionals, brand managers and venture capitalists are here to run interference on the off chance you might look at all of it, contrast with your ever-increasing cost of living, lack of power and sleep deprivation and say “yeah, what a load of shit”, and start demanding a slightly fairer deal. Duh, it’s a free market. Don’t you understand basic economics? Like… supply and demand?
Without getting too boring and engaging in dumb quibbles (and so we can just move on so I get to my actual point) “Capitalism” is simply an approach to a free market, not the free market. In both socialism and capitalism, you still have a market, but they function differently, and prioritise different things. You still exchange goods and services and have money and iPhones and food and colourful clothes that aren’t hessian sacks. Socialists (well, the ones who know what they’re talking about and aren’t annoying), simply use “capitalism” to describe laissez-faire economics.
Socialism simply suggests that maybe capitalists have a slightly (cough) utopian view of human nature and history, and unregulated markets have had a tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few. And, perhaps people are more than just units of production on par with dirt, water and wood.
Under capitalism, society orients towards profit, and because it tends to accumulate, we ultimately end up serving the interests of those who accumulate the most capital (because we all have to survive). So, ultimately we design a society that encourages exploitation. Capitalism, *drum roll* prioritises capital over social. You know, people-are-human-beings-not-robots, and tend to have a breaking point and heads of the wealthy tend to spontaneously fall off every hundred years or so if you keep treating everyone like shit.
Capitalism and socialism are in direct conflict with each other, because each system prioritises one class’ interests over the other and those interests don’t align. So, ultimately we either function to serve the 1% or we function to serve everybody. Get it? Can we move on past first year Pol Sci? I’m bored.
Which is why I find it really odd when I see otherwise-good people who work in Human Resources, or Brand Marketing, or their adjacent peers, posting on LinkedIn how they “love what they do”. I understand that there is a widespread fundamental misunderstanding of what capitalism is, does, how it behaves and how it always ends badly when you look at historical trends. I know that people simply don’t think about it. Mostly because socialists tend to be really fucking annoying. But… think about it now for a sec. Go on.
What is the real role/function of what you do?
When you say you “love” what you do, what does that mean? Do you ever think about the bigger picture? I get it… the small wins are good in a shitty world. But what makes it shitty? You like hanging with people and helping them. So do I. So why not do that for everyone? I also completely understand that you’ve gotta eat and pay your bills somehow, and you’re just trying to get by. But an awful lot of people seem to “love” what they do, when their job’s very function is something they should at least feel a little shame over.
I get it. I worked in marketing and thought I could nibble at the edges of this stuff for two decades. I tolerated it. But I never loved it. I saw it as necessary to live, until eventually I could no longer reconcile that I was contributing to an industry that was doing harm. I never “loved” what I did. I was ashamed of it, and even today, any job that I may take, I see as a concession based on my need to survive.
I used to joke that if I were more attractive I’d choose sex work over marketing, because at least that is an honest transaction …and you get to charge more for being fucked in the arse.
But, moving on.
You are allowed to see jobs as necessary, without “loving what you do”, or lying to yourself and others. It’s okay to admit that you need a job for money and would rather have time to write or paint. Geez. At least charge more for anal.
What is your real function here?
For example, HR’s entire premise is built on the idea that people are resources to be extracted for profit by corporations, and are a “problem” to be “managed” if they step out of line. HR’s job is to extract as much labour from that “resource” as possible. Human beings are no different to the ground, air and water, and we all know how much corporations respect natural resources.
Just think about your role in it and what your primary function is. For one second. You don’t have to don a Che Guevara t-shirt and wear a beret and write slam poetry. I promise. Just think for a sec.
You “love what you do”?! Why? How?
HR’s function is to facilitate an egregious imbalance of power, whilst providing the illusion that the “resource” has a say in it. Those who are especially good at it make an employee think their exploitation is their own idea. You know, win-win.
Try saying no, or challenge this in any way and see how friendly HR is then. Try telling them that the way people are treated when applying for jobs is disrespectful, dehumanising and not at all okay for anyone who claims to be in the people business. Try telling them that the fact they say they love what they do when they know this is the stuff they do to people, actually makes them a terrible human being.
Try telling Human Resources that they are a salve, and actually run interference for an abusive, exploitative and dehumanising system. Point out that they call people Human Fucking Resources.
Watch them scurry, or shift in their seat, or deflect and call people like me negative, for asking for just one second to consider that maybe their ‘brand values’ are a little bit bullshit. Try seeing through the Woke veneers or corporate jargon and ESG platitudes. Try saying no to RUOK? Day or Pride Month because your employer has no legal right to ask about your private life and they know it. They’re friendly. They’re family. They care. They just want to accommodate you.
It’s definitely not bonded labour, because that would be bad and only bad guys force people to do labour in exchange for little to no pay to pay their debts. You are free to leave at any time. It’s not as if you will starve if you say no to it or anything.
Free market. Choice. Team Player. RUOK?
Unfortunately, modern government’s function is to (ideally) protect people from the excesses of this, and mostly to ensure people don’t get angry and start doing the numbers or reading the fine print and start getting ideas about changing things. The government’s job is to mediate between the interests of the wealthy and the natural and human resources the wealthy totally earned through hard work, like the air, water, earth and people in it. They earned it. Why would they pay taxes? Taxes are for socialists who hate the free market and don’t understand basic economics like supply and demand, you see.
Of course, governments also end up stuck with their own HR Departments, because we are now in a situation where corporations have claimed everyone’s resources, and therefore governments are starved out from tax avoidance, corporate lawyers and privately-owned public goods.
Government staff also have rent to pay and fast fashion to buy, and we all know that austerity is the only acceptable way to run a society. So, don’t go getting ideas, like that if we made it so people didn’t starve for not signing a predatory contract where they rented themselves out in exchange for shelter, food and water that is owned by a handful of people (which is definitely not slavery, that would be bad), HR would have far less power over the “resources” and unable to extract as much labour. We can’t have that.
Marketing (and by extension Media)’s function is to make inelastic goods and services out of elastic ones, and emotionally manipulate us to sell things at a higher price and therefore a higher margin. If they’re really super extra good at this, they can put a B badge on it like Nespresso, or make suffragette M&Ms.
The Media’s job is to tell you it is all fine that we’re in a cycle of indentured servitude of being harvested for profit, treated not as human beings but as ingredients in a rainbow cake on RUOK Day. Ignore the wars. What are you, a Russian bot?
I suppose I can understand why people don’t think too deeply about it. It’s painful to think you might be hurting people, unless, of course, you’re a psychopath. And I know that most people are just trying to get by. But this is why I want you to at least consider before you say you “love what you do”. Do you really? Do you really love this? Why?
I don’t. I hate that I am stuck here. I hate that I am surrounded by people who are part of a system that benefits so few, and hurts so many, and they have to find a way to love it. I understand that it feels overwhelming, but as much as we try to quibble over economic theory, and semantics and engage in a massive capitalism cope, it really is as simple as “do you prioritise people over profit?”.
Thinking too deeply about why you do what you do and who we are serving, and owning it, requires us to take stock and look at ourselves honestly. That can be really difficult, especially when the system just feels so large and the solutions are inconvenient.
But, if there’s one thing I hope it’s that people can at least be more conscious about it, and not be deceived by a system that makes all of this seem like our own idea. And for those who reject what I am saying here, I want you to examine what your priorities truly are, and to stop saying that you love people, or that you are in the “people business”. The line between bonded labour and trafficking and how capitalism functions at its core is simply a matter of semantics and branding, at the end of the day. Some are just better at lying to themselves than others.
It’s easier to pretend, or theorise, or quibble, or rationalise with ideological semantics than it is to look at who, ultimately, we are serving, why we are serving them (and yes, survival is a valid reason, up to a point), what our real values are, and how we might change the system that has been built from the ground up to benefit those who can rationalise putting profit over people.
I actually love people, which is why I am saying this. And I put my money where my mouth is. Zoom out.