She’s so damn gorgeous. A place to talk business shop without anyone getting offended. But there’s a virus on LinkedIn: personal branding influencers.
They often call themselves personal branding coaches. The new career choice popped up about 5 years ago when influencer culture peaked.
We got used to seeing perfect models on Instagram show their butts while holding $10 boxed coconut water from the ancient hills of Jamaica.
We got familiar with so-called entrepreneurs coming onto LinkedIn and making it look like every business decision they made turned them into a startup greek god.
Personal branding is a sick nightmare. The Atlantic reported recently that it’s not disappearing. No. Personal branding is dead. Thank god.
Why is LinkedIn a cringefest
Writer Sean Kernan said this.
My answer is always, depends on who you follow chief. My LinkedIn newsfeed is sanitized regularly for personal branding self-promoters. If I smell a whiff of their sh*t, I mute them and move on quickly.
What makes LinkedIn sometimes feel cringe is everyone self-promoting. They do it to get ahead in their career, not to be helpful.
When selfishness is on public display and millions of people are all doing it simultaneously, well, it feels terrible.
They can’t see themselves. They don’t get how dumb it is.
All personal branding does is turn us into circus performers that act out some show we call a career/life for strangers we’ll never meet in reality. What a joke. If someone had said back in 1996 when I first got internet that this is where we’d be, I’d have laughed.
Yet here we are.
Thank god for younger generations
I’m a millennial which means I’m technically a Boomer to Gen Z.
I’ll cop that kiddies. But now it’s my time to praise this beautiful new-ish generation. The new adults in the room saw the personal branding cult. They figured out the poo-stained fantasy in seconds.
So, they rebelled using Web3.
In Web3 you don’t reveal your identity anymore. Instead you use NFTs or JPGs to buy or create animated profile pictures.
The trend you’ve all seen are those Bored Ape monkeys smoking cigars and not giving a f*ck. That’s the new kids on the block who hate personal branding. They don’t want to attach their names to their online profiles.
They’re suspicious of bosses, employers & strangers lurking on the internet.
They don’t want their online existence to become high school performance art. The last thing in the world they want is a dumbass follower count. The smaller their inner circle the better.
I’ve hung out with these cool kids. You know where they love to lurk?
In Discord groups of no more than 100–200 users. When I got a behind-the-scenes look, what I saw was fun and unfiltered speech. I saw people expressing themselves again. And I saw a heck of a lot of memes. Nice.
Personal branding is too serious. Future generations want fun and unfiltered thinking that can’t get stopped by cancel culture tech bros.
“People are trying to become brands. Brands are trying to become people.”
This is where the personal branding culture started from…
For years corporations have tried to build brands. But brands have become boring as hell over the last few years. All the generic ads made us switch off. All the pretending to care (for profit) became too much. So marketing goblins portraying themselves as humans infected everyday humans.
“What if we could secretly get people to become brands then flog our sh*t through their social media profiles?”
The personal brand was born.
Personal brands have a deep-rooted feature no one wants to admit: money. People create personal brands to make money. They don’t do it for whatever BS reasons they announce to the world in their over-the-top LinkedIn profiles.
But when you mix money with content it can become too much. It’s easy to cross to the dark side and see every person online as a transaction you must complete to buy the next Shrek-green Lambo.
Oh, and don’t worry. I suffer from this problem occasionally too. I write content. Sometimes I sell digital products. Keeping the two separate is a mindf*ck. What grounds me is this question:
Is all of this starting to sound selfish?
Selfishness is what killed the broken promise of personal branding.
(Someone tell the personal branding influencers that their business is now dead and they need to get a real job.)
A return to our internet roots
As a Boomer (millennial) I remember the good ol’ days.
Everything on the internet started as anonymous. We would always use a made-up username. My first one was “Craziest Boy” LOL. In the 90s you didn’t want to attach your real name to anything.
What happened on the internet stayed on the internet.
That naughty video or illegally downloaded MP3 could get you a long stay in jail. The internet was creepy. It was the underground. Forums were the rage. There was no Tinder.
You’d go on a website like MIRC and simply write “ASL?” (Age, Sex, Location).
People actually got laid with this technique haha. Although often you’d meet up in IRL (in real life) and find the person was radically different from the edited photos of them on a beach, topless.
Ya win some ya lose some.
We’re heading back to these days thanks to the younger generation. We’re somewhat tired of the boomer, and even millennial, Nanny Police who want the internet to be a PG Disney movie made by (secretly) creepy pedophiles with corrupt intentions.
Bringing it all together
Make no mistake that personal branding is dead.
The average person can see through the paper-thin lies these influencer gurus are flogging to a pack of nobodies who parrot back whatever cliche they share. And whoever thinks a personal brand will get them a promotion at work is delusional.
Employers hire and promote people that can get stuff done. Not Hollywood actors who spend all day doing makeup and ensuring the lighting is perfect so they can record a video and publish it on LinkedIn with #BusyBeingAwesome
I can’t wait until we all have Web3 profile pics of apes with cigars in their mouths. Anything is better than the personal branding pandemic we endured over the last few years.
Writing under my own name is making me tired too. Don’t be surprised if one day I disappear and get one of those Papa Elon barcode baby names, so I can escape reality and live in a Fortnite video game fantasy.
Maybe Elon was right. Maybe we live in a simulation.
Either way, my message for you dear reader is to stay away from personal branding. Instead, focus on being useful online.