Online dating has forever changed the landscape of dating, and from there, it is clear that along with everything else, the way we bond and form relationships with others is ever-evolving. LinkedIn, a networking site popular for building agencies for professionals, started to become more than a place where people find connections for their growing careers.
In terms of branding and purpose, of course this has never been endorsed by the platform, however, LinkedIn romance stories sparked discourse about the intersection of interests happening in the site. Conversations revolve around whether or not combining professional pursuits with romance is okay.
The Rise of Dating Hacks
According to Dustin Kidd, a sociology professor at Temple University, the phenomenon of online platforms transcending their own original purpose is not new. He dubbed this concept as “dating hacks”. This already happened in previous social media sites, those as early as Friendster and Myspace. Apparently, LinkedIn isn’t immune from people seeking for love whenever they see fit. The common thread between all of these platforms is the direct messaging feature which allows users to communicate privately. This leads to connections going beyond professional relationships.
A 24-year-old personal organizer in New York City named Samuela John stands as a testament to the LinkedIn Love Story phenomenon. She mentioned that three separate men have approached her on the site, talking business with sprinkles of personal interest. A lot more people have shared their stories regarding the growing trend of users navigating the realm of online dating and professional networking at the same time.
LinkedIn’s Unique Appeal
Users find appeal in LinkedIn in terms of dating due to the credibility of the people who use it — giving them details to at least know a person on a certain level. Knowing someone’s education, employment history, and endorsements from other colleagues gives users the confidence to trust someone’s background, establishing whether or not a certain person could be a romantic prospect.
With all that said, the issue of consent and appropriateness of the practice of making LinkedIn a lowkey dating app remains in question. Content creator Charlotte Warren posited the invasive nature of unsolicited advances in a platform purely made for business and professional connections. Where do we draw the line between carefree interactions and professional boundaries? According to a survey conducted by Passport Photo Online, 91% of female users have reported unwanted romantic and inappropriate messages in a place they’re supposed to feel safe from something they casually (and wrongly) experience walking on streets. This unwanted attention caused women to have another layer of caution in a platform that was built to be professional.
While the lines between professional networking and personal connections on LinkedIn are becoming increasingly blurred, it is important to take note of the implications this can have on its user base. Yes, evolution of anything is as natural as Charles Darwin says, and of course, this paradigm works for some people. But as rational and progressed we have become as individuals and as a society, it is important to take a hint and value other people’s boundaries. Before hitting that flirty LinkedIn message, perhaps you can ask yourself if it’s the right time and place, or better yet, if it’s actually even called for.