Business with a Smile: Petition for Linkedin to include a 'Smile/Laughter' Reaction Emoji

Business with a Smile: Petition for Linkedin to include a 'Smile/Laughter' Reaction Emoji

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Teniola Esan started this petition to LinkedIn

Despite the wonderful prospects of professional networking, I have had a hard time adapting to Linkedin as a social media platform and it has taken me sometime to examine this problem and come up with this simple yet potentially powerful recommendation.

I began talking to people around me to hear about their experience using Linkedin, and although they all admitted that it is an extremely useful professional tool, most of them expressed some reservation about the platform. They said in various ways, that there is just something about it that 'feels' uneasy. Its a feeling.

As I dug deeper some words became frequent in expressing this lingering dissatisfaction: 'Superficial' is a word that popped up frequently; likewise, 'cold.'  

I spoke to hundreds of people who couldn't quite put their finger on what that feeling was, but I knew what they meant, mainly because I felt it too. A writer friend said, "it feels like I always have to censor myself on Linkedin." Another colleague who is an excellent lawyer, said to me in passing, "no one on Linkedin has any failures. You're either posting a first class achievement; a scholarship offer, or a new job offer etc. If you don't have anything to celebrate you can quickly feel out of place."

I took some time to ruminate on my own experience, till I realized something so tiny yet so meaningful:

Linkedin users cannot smile or laugh...not at themselves nor at something pleasant, humorous, or simply agreeable. Not at satire, not at pun, not at any form of witticisms, small coincidences, minor faux pas, personal gaffs, or cleverly written prose. 

This observation hit me a few months ago, after reading a beautiful article posted by The New Yorker, (a linkedin page with 554,400 followers.) It was a well written article titled "Real Men Hate Toxic Masculinity" by Luke Burns which was humorously crafted around a poignant social issue. It made me laugh...but not on Linkedin. There was no option for laughter.

On another occasion I made a witty quip on my profile Teniola Esan (Ten) about the irony that occurs where a Board of Directors introduces an annual report with the conventional words: "we are proud to present the annual report of xyz company," despite having reported a loss in the outgoing year. Although tainted with sarcasm, there was no emoticon on the Linkedin app for readers to appreciate that literary device beyond a mere "like" button.
Laughter is one of the few things that every person in the world truly has in common- it is a phenomenon that is a key part of our developmental psychology and it is quite notable that human babies learn to laugh long before they learn to talk. It is a cross cultural phenomenon that breaks the boundaries of race, cultural, location, age, profession, gender orientation etc. we all why not on Linkedin?

Linkedin users cannot smile or laugh on the app; and this issue is telling: If users cannot smile or laugh at content, then they can never truly feel comfortable on the platform; and it stands to reason that if we cannot laugh at ourselves and admit that we are humans after all who make mistakes and have insecurities, then little wonder why some can describe the app as "cold" and why such a brilliant platform feels superficial and unwelcoming to many.

From a professional standpoint as well:  corporate culture is an important part of any organization. And I daresay a corporate culture which excludes such positive expressions of agreeableness as smiling and laughter may not bode well for either the staff, or the clients and customers. As the old chinese saying goes: "A man without a smiling face must not open a shop." It is my belief that the same goes for a social media platform.

Understandably a workplace is not meant for fun and games, but a company without a smile is not a company I want to work for. A business without smiles is not a business I want to engage in or with. And an atmosphere where people cannot laugh at themselves, their own mistakes and shortcomings, and find pleasure in light hearted issues is not an atmosphere that brings out the best in people.

So I am hereby calling on you to support this Petition.  It is a small change but with big implications- to make the Linkedin interface more welcoming and agreeable for its users: in order to build better human connections and more wholesome reactions- and also to allow us carry out service with a smile.
Thank you.

Teniola Esan (Ten.) 

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