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A cartoon depicting a sad work anniversary

RubbedIn

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Not every anniversary is a cause for celebration. And while the narrative LinkedIn would like you to believe in is career success upon success, a lot of stories are less Horatio Alger rags-to-riches and more Henry David Thoreau lives-of-quiet-desperation.

Similarly, Facebook’s marketing promotes a story that’s all about moments of joy, large and small. But algorithms based on overly cheerful assumptions tend to bring those contradictions to the surface – sometimes pretty roughly, as Facebook users keep discovering.

Thing is, many of the times my online social networks have proven most important to me have been the hard moments – the stumbles, tragedies, failures, disappointments. Sharing the pain, finding a shoulder, getting advice and encouragement: these are every bit as valuable as the likes and smiley-face stickers you get for a cute video of your kid, or a humblebrag about a professional triumph.

I wouldn’t mind seeing an ad campaign for Facebook or LinkedIn that played up those benefits as well. At the very least, let’s acknowledge that everyone’s life is a lot messier than it looks in our profiles and timelines.

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