When the Bright Eyes of A Giant Grow Dim and Fade to Black

Grim reaper

By Phil La Duke

Just a quick postscript to this article: I’m indescribably disappointed with a) the stupidity in the threads of LinkedIn in response to last week’s post and b) the fact that nobody confronted the Crank Coxes who pounced on the post unwittingly proving my point.  Just when you give people credit for a modicum of intelligence you meet a handful that prove that LinkedIn is over crowded with mouth-breathing droolers with nothing to say but exercising there God-given right to scream it to the world.—Phil

Dedicated to Dave Collins for his years of service to the safety function.

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked… for an angry fix”

Recently the LinkedIn community lost yet another thought leader. After years of brilliant contributions to the many discussion threads of the groups to which he belonged one of the most important voices on LinkedIn was silenced. Dave Collins didn’t die, rather he was driven from LinkedIn by trolls who are, by an order of magnitude, his intellectual inferior. Dave, tired of being shouted down for having insightful views of safety and business, took his proverbial ball and went home.

Those of you who didn’t know Dave when he was a LinkedIn member really missed out. Dave is a true innovator who is not afraid to take on the most cherished sacred cows of safety. He does it with Aussie finesse to my crazed barbarian swinging a bag of broken glass but the trolls don’t understand civility. Barbarity is the only language they understand.

Dave is still maintaining his megablog, http://www.safetyrisk.net/ , which is the single most influential safety blog in the world. Sounds like someone we’d like to have in our community. Dave is a loss, but more importantly, Dave is emblematic of the downward spiral of LinkedIn. I have been a member for a decade or so and have seen both the structure of LinkedIn and the quality of the community.

In the words of Allen Ginsberg, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked… for an angry fix” but in my case I saw the best minds of my generation driven from the ideological threads of a once great social landscape. The golden age of LinkedIn wasn’t the wild west of America Online, or the banal photos of the “sick” brunch posted on Facebook; no, LinkedIn was a place where people could ask questions in good faith and get answers from legitimate experts. It was a place where one could talk shop with their peers, get advice and yes make friends. When I joined LinkedIn I did so I could stay in touch with colleagues with whom I had lost touch. I thought, “This is genius! Once I’m linked to my old friends and colleagues I won’t have all those dead emails.” Truth be told a friend and colleague called me at work one day and asked for me email. Exasperated, she asked me why I wasn’t on LinkedIn. “You’ll have 500 contacts by the end of the week.” She was wrong; it took two weeks. I joined groups and like many people stood on the sideline. I read the discussion threads and like most of us watched as two or more intellectual powerhouses slugged it out. I thought LinkedIn was incredible, it was one of the greatest things I had ever experienced—relative to what would later become called “social networks”.

When a troll would light me up for speaking my opinion or dare to question them, some wise LinkedIn veteran would come to my defense, point out the idiots and the crack pots (and yes even the mentally ill). There’s nothing wrong with silencing those who bully and attack, in fact, there maybe nothing more nobler.

Now all that is gone.

We all take some share of the blame from the bloated Crank Coxes  and Sparry Suckers that troll the discussion threads to all of us who say nothing as they destroy the community to those of us who whore our companies shamelessly to the water-headed imbeciles who post Facebook tripe to those who stand mute as it happens. In the words of Edmund Burke:

All it takes for Evil to prevail in this world is for enough good men to do nothing. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Dave Collins departure isn’t the death knell of LinkedIn; it’s its tombstone. Like all things once great that reach their nadir LinkedIn (recently purchased by the digital leprosy that is Microsoft) has been dead for a while but will continue for a decade as a place where the intellectually walking dead continue to feed on each other. And I will be there, not to bear witness to its painful demise, but because they are easy pickens.