Saturday, October 14, 2017

Linkedin and the meaningless words

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
I have asked the question before - am I using linkedin the wrong way? - and - what does 500+ connections on linkedin mean? - but today my question is about the words that linkedin made redundant, hollow, and empty.
Let's start with "mentor" - how often do you see that word plastered on profiles there? Much more than I can count. Let me be clear, one does not bestow this title on themselves (no matter what you convinced some idiotic incubator that you were so), to be a mentor is a title that other people lay on you. You assume it with dignity, do not speak of it, and try your best to be up to it. As the great Mark Twain once said about someone who presented him before a conference: "he introduced me in a way I could never live up to". To keep boasting that you are a mentor is an inherent defect and a clear indication you have no notion of what the word means in practice.
How about "entrepreneur"? Every young person calls himself/herself that word. What's my issue? You can be an entrepreneur while holding a 9 to 5 job - and no, not on the side of it as a moonlighting operation, inside that job as you try to stretch you company's (limited) resources to reach the targets. On his first day of work as head of Tele Liban the late Jean-Claude Boulos realized that one of the cameramen was holding his own camera with shoelaces to stop the top part from falling apart. If this is not being entrepreneurial then I wonder what is! One does not need to invent a useless app to be called entrepreneur, most of such app-inventing people are - sorry if I am stereotyping - rich kids playing with daddy's money (thankfully Patrick Chemali - no relation - corroborates this theory).
Serial change-maker (insert *facepalm* here). Maybe everyone should get off their arrogant high horses and listen to Jean-Jacques Goldman's "Il changeait la vie" (he was changing life). I thankfully could find an English translation of the lyrics, while those who appreciate French could read them in the language they were written in.
How about "co-working" or "incubator" or whatever. People, these notions existed way before - I was once explaining to my mother how the H&M designer collaborations work and how people would line up early in the morning to get their hands on them, and her reply was "oh just like the annual sales of Zahar, we would stand in the dark at 5 A.M. in Souk el Tawile to be able to get the deeply discounted merchandise".
Another example? In my summer break in 1993 I was working at the Beirut Archaeological digs, and I found a terracotta cover with a hole in it, I reported it to the person in charge and the man gently said: "Tarek, this is not a hole, this is a purposely made steam releasing mechanism which today we know as "presto" or steam cooker". There's nothing new under the sun, except that the Linkedin profiles think - as we say in Arabic - that they "iktashafo el baroud" (invented gunpowder).
Say what you want about Maguy Farah, the Lebanese radio-television personality, she once said something incredibly insightful, "when in class, you don't teach, rather we all learn" - yes teachers included. A former CEO of a Lebanese Bank still calls himself "lifelong student" (full disclosure I know Dan personally), and - lest you be intrigued as to how I present myself on linkedin? "Think tank and multimedia artist" - it says everything but does it in a way that is not self-aggrandizing or look-at-me-I-have-done-so-and-so.
Get a grip people, words have become meaningless on linkedin.