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The Reality of LinkedIn Altruism in the Wake of Coronavirus

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

I'll cut to the chase: shit is bad. The economy was down 5% in Q1 and will most certainly be worse off in Q2. In this time, lockdowns forced many businesses to downsize and cut costs. Their biggest cost savings? People. 40,000,000 Americans have since lost their jobs due to the lockdowns and restrictions. Companies had to act fast to stay afloat and the heaviest cargo was their talent. No surprise there. It's funny to me to think I know more people who have had their jobs affected by the lockdowns than tested positive for Coronavirus (spoiler: it's none). The reality, of course, is that what we feared Coronavirus would do to our bodies, it has done to our economy. It's constricted the healthy flow of activity and has left near-permanent damage.

With the layoffs and furloughs, I've noticed an uptick of "altruism" in professional social channels. Former co-workers and peers post things like "If you've been furloughed or let go, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I can make an introduction or provide any help I can."

Before you get mad at me for calling this out, let me state that for the most part, this is a very kind sentiment (if you're not just virtue signalling). As I mentioned, I have people in my life who lost their gigs over Coronavirus and I have offered support as well. It's natural. We're all in shock and we hate seeing people lose their livelihoods when it's no fault of their own. It's a shame. But there's a reality to this situation, however. As much as it's nice to see people extend a hand, it's most likely a fruitless effort. If you're this far without rage quitting my thoughts, you may be irked by that last sentence. I get it. It can seem jeering. It's the reality, though. This isn't 2018 where you get laid off and the economy is ripe enough for introductions to matter. There will be less opportunity to go around in the coming months.

Saying I'll help in anyway I can is nice, but empty. Want to help? Really? Give that person you're offering to help the 30% of their salary they just lost. Cover their health insurance. Hire them in your company so they can remain productive and fulfilled and not malaised by sitting in their house all day in unemployment. That's what would help. Saying you can help in any way you can is simply vapid and indulgent. You most likely can't do anything to help. You can't pull people out of unemployment. You can't recoup the cost of having someone's business fail because customers aren't allowed to purchase from it.

Let me be clear–I am not dissuading offering a helping hand. If you can, you should do it. But only if you can truly help. If you can throw someone some work or coach them on their resumé, do it. If you are throwing out support platitudinously with no substance, then you should stop. You're just adding noise. The reality is is that lockdowns (whether you support them or not) have dealt a huge blow to the livelihoods of millions of Americans. I'm not even referring to the 40,000,000 who are on unemployment. I'm talking about the thousands of people who got pay cuts, hour cuts, benefit cuts, etc. That figure is even larger than the aforementioned.

In conclusion, if you're going to offer help. Mean it. Make sure there's actual opportunity or service you can provide. But let's face it, the economy face planted into a hole and we are all clamoring to get out of it.

-A

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