LinkedIn’s Quick Replies Add an Impersonal Touch

Do you want to make a good impression on a potential employer? Congratulate a friend on landing their dream job? Drop a line to an old colleague you haven’t seen in ages? And would you like to do so without expending any effort or thought whatsoever?

LinkedIn’s suggested response feature, Quick Replies, is perfect for you. In just a few short clicks, you can conduct an extended professional conversation completely devoid of thought or meaning. Read the conversation below for proof.

Every message was sent with a single click. Collectively, it took less than a minute to conduct a 35-word-long conversation.

LinkedIn introduced Quick Replies in late 2017. Quick Replies suggests words for quick, easy communication between business professionals. The feature is like Apple’s predictive texts or Gmail’s new smart replies, except inflected with a safe for work blandness only possible on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn was created by Reid Hoffman and other PayPal founders in 2002 as a professional networking site. In the 16 years since, it’s amassed more than 500 million users with the goal of “[connecting] the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

As a social media platform focused on business communication, LinkedIn is shallow and impersonal by design. The site’s meant to help people make sense of professional lives. That means bullet points, musings on management and motivation, self-promotion and a life lived solely through work experience. The richness of the human experience doesn’t get fully representation but that’s fine because everyone on LinkedIn knows and understands that.

LinkedIn users are far less invested in the site than other social media. We may not trust Facebook in the wake of data mining and fake news scandals, but it retains a warm and fuzzy aura since people use it to post pictures of their pets, kids and vacations. Because it’s work and not life related, using LinkedIn feels like a chore or an obligation. I’s a dumb site that you needed to join to look good for employers and something you’d occasionally update after their endless notification emails left you feeling vaguely guilty for neglecting it.

LinkedIn is very helpful for some people. The business-based social network’s focus is unique. It’s genuinely useful for recruiters. Enthusiastic LinkedIn users share articles and information, post career updates, find job candidates and more. And, unlikely though it may seem, it can actually help people land a job.

The people who like it like it because they find it useful for their professional lives. And when the site starts to drift into personal lives, it becomes less useful and they like it less.

Quick Replies were designed to make communication quicker and easier. Things get hectic during working hours. Still, you have to keep in touch with people. If you can simply click to congratulate someone or reply to a message, you can maintain that relationships without wasting time. The time you saved thinking of a full response can now be allotted to greater productivity. More click-replies equals more productivity, and on the cycle goes.

But single-click replies also sap those connections of any meaning. Personal and professional relationships are investments of time and care you make because you have an emotional or monetary interest.

Though Quick Replies, LinkedIn accidentally demonstrates the hollowness at the heart of business communication. By making connections effortless, they’re stripping them of value. It’s a bold mix of convenient messaging and implying that you’re obligated to do something. It wants to make you feel bad for declining to spend two seconds click-congratulating someone you barely know for something you don’t care about. It doesn’t want you to ask why you should bother in the first place.