Taking a long break from LinkedIn

Ahh, summer holidays. The time to relax, take a break from work, spend more time outdoors and with family, and also the time to take a step back and think about what you’re doing, where you’re spending your time and whether that makes you happy.

I’ve just returned from a three-week summer holiday break, and I definitely spent quite some time thinking about what I want my professional and personal life to look like, and what I might want to or even need to change to get there.

After quite a bit of thinking (and this started way before I went on vacation), I’ve decided that one of the things that has to change for me is wasting less time and energy on the mental drain that is LinkedIn.


Well, ever since I first signed up for LinkedIn way back in 2007, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the platform, especially in the last couple of years. Posting, liking, commenting, I couldn’t and can’t seem to get enough of it. However, where I used to absolutely love LinkedIn, my attitude towards the platform over the last year or so has evolved into what can only be described as a love-hate relationship.

I still love (or, well, appreciate is probably the better word) LinkedIn for all the opportunities it has given me, the genuine connections I’ve made and the things I’ve learned from others posting on there. I’d even go as far as saying I wouldn’t be where I am now in my career were it not for LinkedIn and the opportunities that have come through my network on there.

On the other hand, there are a couple of things on LinkedIn that I’ve grown to seriously dislike, and they seem to be slowly turning the scales to the platform and my activity on there becoming a net-negative instead of a net-positive for me.

First, the quality of the posts. These days, I’m seeing a lot of content on LinkedIn that might be relevant for some people, but definitely not for me. Political views. Personal stuff that is nowhere nearly related to what you do for a living. Endless ‘discussion’ (bashing, more like) of things that were beaten to death ages ago, like Scrum, SAFE, ‘no-code’ and (A/a)gile.

And recently, although in retrospect this might have been going on for a while, I just didn’t see it, the ongoing whining (I really can’t think of a better word to describe it) of parts of the testing community about ‘how people don’t understand us’.

But Bas, you might say, why don’t you just check and use LinkedIn less often? Well, that’s where the second thing I’ve grown to dislike comes in, and it is probably a much bigger dislike than the first one.

While LinkedIn is definitely much more business-oriented than, for example, Twitter, which I left a couple of years ago, it is a social media platform, carefully engineered to keep people interacting with it as long and as often as possible. When you start looking for the effect of social media on your brain, you’ll find a lot of articles that tell you exactly this: you didn’t lose your attention, it was stolen from you.

And big tech must be doing something right (at least, regarding their own interests), because I spend a lot more time than I should on LinkedIn, time that I suspect I can put to much better use.

Having read a lot of articles about people struggling with and quitting social media (here are some examples) and recognizing myself a lot in the symptoms described in there, I’ve come to realize that something needs to change.

I have started to wonder whether or not I should spend such a big part of the finite amount of time and energy that I have available throughout the day on browsing and refreshing LinkedIn, with all its humblebragging, broetry and other content that’s much more about the eyeballs and the likes than it is about providing actual value to those who read it.

And that’s why I’ve decided to take a break from LinkedIn, at least for a while. I don’t want to give it up altogether (at least not yet…) like I did with Twitter, especially because again, I have been getting a lot of value out of the platform over the years. I do want to see how much of that is directly related to me being on LinkedIn, though, and how much of that is purely because of the quality of my talks, my articles and my courses.

You might call it an attempt to reset the way I use the platform. You might call it a LinkedIn detox. You might call it whatever you want, I don’t know exactly how to describe it myself. However, I feel that an extended break is the only right thing to do at the moment.

So, from today, August 10, 2023, I’m staying away from LinkedIn until at least January 8, 2024. That’s right, I’m going on a five month break from LinkedIn. Full stop, no exceptions.

Early 2024, I’ll re-evaluate and decide on whether I’ll get back to using LinkedIn more actively.

This is probably going to be very hard for me, especially in the first couple of weeks, but I feel that I need to do this. I hope that this will help me clear my mind, restore my ability to focus on tasks (in other words, do more deep work) and reduce the continuous anxiety and urge to ‘just check LinkedIn once again’.

This, in turn, hopefully enables me to produce more valuable content. Open source contributions, talks, new courses and workshops, … I think there’s a lot more value in that than in writing social media updates and comments that are inherently much more ephemeral in nature.

I’m also looking forward to spending more time on contributing to open source projects, including but definitely not limited to RestAssured.Net.

I am fully aware that I still have a business to run, and that in the past, LinkedIn has been my main channel for promotion and marketing. During my break, I will, and will need to, therefore explore alternative ways of bringing my services to the attention of potential clients. I’ve been exploring some ways to do this for a while, but haven’t really taken a lot of action in that area yet. I’m really curious to see how dependent I am on LinkedIn, really.

Being less ‘visible’ online, or at least on LinkedIn, might result in me getting fewer requests for conference talks and workshops, too. And that’s OK. While I love traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people at conferences, I am totally fine if the number of travel opportunities offered goes down. If anything, it will allow me to focus and try to get to the places that I would really like to go to and do some work, be it a conference or an in-house training gig. Examples of these destinations are Canada (I will be there in September, but definitely open to more opportunities there), Australia and New Zealand.

I also hope that this break from LinkedIn will give me more time and the attention required to focus on some goals outside of work. I do read quite a lot of books already, but most of the time I stick with the ‘lighter’ stuff because I just don’t seem to possess the attention span required for reading and processing more demanding literature anymore, and that’s something I would like to change.

I’m also aiming to finally get enough training in to be able to work towards some fitness goals I’ve been eyeing for years now. Achieving these goals will take a significant amount of time, but it will also require both focus and proper sleep, two things that for me easily deteriorate if I spend too much time and mental energy on attention black holes such as LinkedIn.

I’m definitely not going to disappear from the planet, or even from the Internet, so if you want to get or stay in touch, please email me instead (bas@ontestautomation.com). I am more than happy to discuss opportunities for collaboration, or just to have a chat.

If necessary, I’m happy to give you my telephone number, so you can text me, or so that we can have an actual call. Old-fashioned, I know, but much more personal, too.

I am really looking forward to going back to those slightly more traditional and ‘slower’ means of communication, networking and marketing. I sometimes joke that part of my brain is permanently stuck in the 90’s, and I think this might be an example of my actions matching that.

If you’re looking for fresh content from me, there’s always this blog to look out for. I do hope to get back to regular writing soon.

In any case, by all means feel free to get and stay in touch. I just ask you to not use LinkedIn messages, invites, comments or tags to do so. Cheers!

P.S. Apart from the articles I linked to earlier in this post, here are a couple of books that have really changed my thinking about social media and my presence on these platforms. I highly recommend you read them.

Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism

Adam Alter - Irresistible

Johann Hari - Stolen Focus

P.S.: I’ve rewritten, published and then deleted this post several times over the last year and a half or so. That in itself is telling me something: I struggle with the addictiveness of social media. I go off it for a while, a few weeks later I’m back on as if nothing happened. This prolonged break I’m taking is therefore much, much needed.