Curating Your LinkedIn Timeline and De-Cluttering Your Life

Curating Your LinkedIn Timeline and De-Cluttering Your Life
Photo by The Tampa Bay Estuary Program / Unsplash

I am a person that spends way too much time on LinkedIn due to a conjunction of circumstances: I left Facebook back in 2018, I never really returned to Twitter after deleting and re-creating my account there, and also because LinkedIn is a kind of hub where I post work-related content, as well as keep in touch with my enterprise tech industry friends and gather insights on enterprise tech industry news.

LinkedIn's Algorithmic Madness

In the past year or two, I noticed that LinkedIn has started pushing more and more controversial or irrelevant content to me. Initially, I was just silently complaining about it, without taking much action, but at some point it was just too much.

Some contacts going overkill with politics and international conflicts, others with whom I didn't engage in a decade going hyperactive in a totally irrelevant field, others sharing wacko opinions, banalities, or actively re-sharing content that has been seen over and over, or spending their day liking other's content.

If it wasn't enough, if I happened to interact with content that one of my contacts had also interacted with, I would begin to get flooded with all the irrelevant stuff that this person would do.

While this would be understandable if I had a low count of contacts, I'm currently North of 1,500+ contacts at the moment and growing.

First Curation Attempts

I can get sentimental at times and have historically been reluctant to remove LinkedIn connections, so I thought at first of the following decision algorithm to determine if to keep a contact or not:

  • No action required
    • Contact is industry relevant and shares meaningful content
    • Contact isn't industry relevant, but occasionally shares meaningful content
    • Contact is a real life personal acquaintance and does not post annoying content
  • Unfollow
    • Contact is industry relevant but shares meaningless, irrelevant, or too much political content
    • Contact is industry relevant but extremely spammy
    • Contact is a real life acquaintance but fits previous categories from a content perspective
  • Remove connection and/or block
    • Contact is industry relevant but acts unprofessionally, is repeatedly offensive, exclusively shares political and controversial opinions
    • Contact is not industry relevant, hasn't been in contact with me for multiple years, and shares irrelevant / spammy content

Fine-tuned Feed Curation

Retrospectively, my previous approach was not only perhaps too radical, but it also missed an important point: the LinkedIn algorithm wouldn't know what topics I'm not interested about, and would periodically put the same topics again in front of me.

Although I did this for a little while and it didn't turn out bad, I had a discussion with some industry friends in a community private chat server, during one of our peers "I can't stand LinkedIn anymore" moment. One of my peers recommended me to use instead the various options on the drop-down menu for each post (the view below is from a suggested post and hence lacks the "Unfollow" option).

When selecting "Not interested", the menu unfolds as follows, providing more granular options to eventually "teach" the algorithm:

At this point, it's up to you to determine how annoyed you are and how much are you willing to curate. But generally this is a good start, and after a little while the feed's characteristics will start changing.

You can and should combine this with the previous approach that I described, which then provides a sufficient gamut of options ranging from gently removing some topics from your timeline to going nuclear with unrepentant offenders.

It's Not Business, It's Personal ... Or Isn't It?

Because curating your timeline may sometimes mean curating even your contact list, you might have to think well about the actions that you want to take. I find the gradual approach to be the most efficient, because you may not always want to completely cut off people from your life (although sometimes it's the best decision you can make).

Context is also important: do you necessarily need to maintain a virtual bond with a colleague that worked in a completely different function, with whom you haven't interacted in the past 15 years, and with whom you didn't share anything in particular?

Success and happiness isn't necessarily counted in the number of followers or contacts one has on LinkedIn or anywhere else (but your mileage may vary).

The other aspect to take into account is that doom scrolling into LinkedIn will inevitably lead you to be exposed to more and more content that you could've avoided in the first place. In that case, just install a browser / website usage timer & blocker like StayFocusd (Chrome Plugin) or OneSec on iOS, an excellent app to keep our brain off the hook.

The Circle of Trust

Your list of LinkedIn contacts (also, note: this is valid for other social media) is a reflection of your real life: you decide who gets inside the Circle of Trust(tm), and who stays outside.

YARN | You're still in the circle of trust, | Meet the Fockers (2004) |  Video clips by quotes | aa8451c6 | 紗

When you're connecting with someone over social media, you're not necessarily building a forever lasting connection: your lives, career paths, interests, and pet peeves (sometimes fixations) will evolve over time.

And when you are "operating at scale" i.e. have a history of connections with past colleagues from nearly two decades, various contacts about which you can't even remember how they contacted you, sometimes the right thing to do is just to engage in some clean up activities. Just go ahead, de-clutter your timeline and get rid of the toxicity, irrelevant content, and spam.

Your future self will thank you for it.