A Christmas Gift From Nabeel
Everyone look under your chairs!
There is no social media better than LinkedIn. That is a fact. If there were a pie chart that broke down the time I spend on the Internet, you’d find a large slice—smaller than “Twitter,” “Dua Lipa interviews,” and “golf videos on the difference between chipping and pitching”—devoted to trawling the depths of LinkedIn’s vile morass. It’s the largest network, to my mind, where people must still attempt to act at least somewhat normal; there is very little “alt” LinkedIn to be found, nor some niche coterie of tastemakers who shitpost deep-fried memes and harass celebrities. Really, ever since the company took away that feature where you could endorse your friends for a skill called “Tight Gas,” the platform—and its users—is almost completely sanitized for professional appearance. It is the paragon of earnestness, a cesspool of banality and insipid thought.
This makes sense, obviously. LinkedIn has a direct relationship to your potential livelihood, whereas you can make a private Twitter account called “Pol (Pot) Sprouse” and still be a little turd, anonymously. But what LinkedIn does still specialize in, to my great enjoyment, is the beloved Viral Post. An artform I once thought to be lost in time has somehow been resurrected from the icy depths of obscurity by Indians with “micro-VC funds,” the nagging reminder that someone once told them they can “write really well,” and too much free time on their hands. It takes a lot of skill to be a LinkedInfluencer. Your fame is fleeting, and your virality is mercurial: post one too many internship acceptance announcements, or a charming anecdote that veers too close to socialism, and your number is up, my friend.
Some time at the beginning of quarantine, I came across a particularly egregious LinkedIn post. There are worse ones, to be sure, but this one somehow lodged itself deep into my brain.
This is dumb as fuck. Obviously it is. I’m laughing now just reading it again for the 27th time. But here’s where things get interesting: my man Asim, apparently unsatisfied with the level of engagement he ended up with originally, posted this exact same story, slightly tweaked, only five months later.
Pretend this is a Highlights magazine—spot the differences. And now, we will dive into each one.
New Lede: “A friend of mine has huge feet - sized UK 13.” has now become “A few years ago, I was strolling through a high-end departmental store in Malaysia with a friend with huge feet - sized UK 13.”
This is, frankly, a horrible edit. The original post had a great lede: it was punchy, stupid, and funny. This new opening line takes all the fun out of the story. I can’t fathom why he would change it to this—perhaps he wanted to emphasize the physical act of strolling, so that when you get to the kicker (the friend with huge feet, sized UK 13), there’s more connective tissue. But I don’t believe many people actually associate strolling with feet, instinctively, and even so, the end result here is just an incredibly clunky sentence. Not off to a great start, Asim. The whole point here is to get more engagement, not less, brother.
Added “Now” to the beginning of “this was before online retailing had taken off here.”
I’m actually fine with this. Strikes a more conversational (and educational) tone.
Inserted the clause “was surprised they had it” and omitted the method of payment (“credit card”).
It seems, in this second draft, Asim realized the fatal flaw of his original fiction: there was no character development, no inherent motive. The character of Friend With Huge Feet Sized UK 13 came across as flat, lifeless; five months later, he is now surprised. Now that’s an emotion! That’s a human being we can get behind, huge feet and all.
The credit card thing is suss. What did he pay with? As we’ll soon find out, Friend With Huge Feet Sized UK 13 wasn’t very wealthy (he had just started his own startup), so what gives, dude? Did he or did he not pay with his credit card? Tell us the truth, Asim.
Removed the word “really” from describing the adjective “odd”
I get it, man. I really do. Sometimes the likes don’t come in. Sometimes the post isn’t shared enough. And sometimes your Aesop’s Fable about big feet just doesn’t catch the wave. But this is clown shit, and you know better. If something is odd, it’s odd. But if something is really odd? We’ve got the right to know. Fucking hell.
Slightly distanced himself from the center of the narrative (changed direct quote of “Why didn’t you even ask for the price of the shoe before buying?” to an expositional summary of his question)
People have grown a lot, spiritually, during COVID, and I guess Asim came to the realization that he wasn’t the center of this story. He didn’t need to make it a dialogue between two friends. The meat of the fable, the reason we’re all here today, is Friend With Huge Feet Sized UK 13. Not Asim Qureshi CEO Jibble - The Employee Time Clock App.
Edited Friend With Huge Feet Sized UK 13’s quotation by removing “at the very most” (possibly journalistic malpractice)
I will leave this one up to the courts to decide. I don’t want to insert myself into their friendship. But if Friend With Huge Feet Sized UK 13 wanted to sue for libel, he wouldn’t have the worst case in the world. Again, I’ll stay out of this.
Less likes and comments: lower engagement
Feels mean to include this—after all, Asim didn’t do this by choice—but sometimes we must reckon with the Mission: Impossible - Fallout of our own actions.
At the end of the day, all we’re trying to do—each of us, in our own shitty ways—is leave a mark on this world. Something that says, “This is me, and I was here.” We trudge through the daily grind of the post-Iraq War corporate hellscape, offering our useless services to whichever benevolent tech company will allow us to leech off of their venture capital, and we hope, above all else, that we are unique. That something we say or do or write sticks. And sometimes, we have to try it twice. Sometimes, we write a story about our disgusting, nasty little freak of a friend with sized UK 13 feet to make an insanely stupid point about, like, the value of your time or some shit (???), and it doesn’t hit like we want it to. So we tinker away, furiously, deep in the lab for five months, until we think we’ve got it—but we don’t. In fact, it hits less. Embarrassingly less engagement. And it’s at that point, the crucial post-nut clarity of self-reflection, that we might have to consider the plain truth: this one just doesn’t have legs.
So get back in the workshop, Asim. I’ll be waiting to see what toys you come up with for next Christmas.
Hey! By the way…what’s Jibble? You guys hiring or something? Sounds like a fun name. I’m sure your product is cool and definitely not, like, terrifying and kind of fascist. Actually, let me just look it up—
Oh Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!
Many years ago, as I was hacking my way through the jungles of the Congo with a machete, I came upon a small baby.
Its mother had left it in the middle of the jungle.
I decided I should do something. But what?
I would give the baby a job interview.
Giving the baby a job would help to lift it out of poverty, and would give it a sense of purpose because it would be part of the global economy.
I began the interview by asking a simple logic question.
The baby didn’t give the correct answer. I had no choice but to leave it where it lay.
When building your business, never compromise on quality of talent.
You won’t regret it.