By Edmund Janas, Contributing Writer

I’m Not So Sure Steve Jobs Would Be So Welcomed on Facebook Groups or on LinkedIn If He Were Starting Out Today

In the vast expanse of social media, creative thinkers and non-conformists often find themselves stifled. Well, at least I do. This is especially true for polymaths, those who cultivate expertise across a diverse range of fields, often desperate fields of study. 

In these days of carefully crafted avatars, the very essence of social media, seems to thrive on conformity, and my guess is, as long as it keeps cash registers ringing, it’s likely to remain the case.

But I think we are inadvertently suppressing the innovative potential of these intellectual explorers. Perhaps not more than the general population, but I think it’s worth exploring. So let’s explore this paradox, let’s talk about the trials and tribulations faced by polymaths in the realm of likes and shares.

Steve Jobs would be a great example of a polymath who changed our world in a short period of time. He studied art, design, Shakespeare, theater… He didn’t program. He didn’t graduate from college, and he, “Gasp!” had holes in his resume! He even found success later in life. But in today’s youth obsessed landscape, one wonders if he would have made such an impact today. He studied many areas but excelled in one area for which he wasn’t particularly credentialed or trained in. How would that play out on Linkedin?

Something tells me he wouldn’t be welcomed so much in today’s world. No, he would likely be censored heavily on FB Groups and find no home on LinkedIn. The world has changed Steve, and not necessarily for the better.

Let’s explore whether the cultural icon, Steve Jobs, would get a Yay or Nay in today’s world. My vote is, he would be ignored on LinkedIn.

See, I’m old enough to remember when people lost their minds when he got rid of the floppy disk out of the first Blueberry iMac. Yes, he got rid of a technology everyone hated and was vilified for the favor. No good deed goes unpunished. Now, I’m not saying all polymaths are destined for greatness or geniuses, and certainly I won’t be achieving great heights, the clock is against me. But I think it’s worth thinking about.

As a soloprenuer I’ve been thinking about how technology fits into my life, how I interact with it, how it so often disagrees with my core preferences and values. And these questions are meant for the polymath community. I think we are often seen as inappropriate, impertinent or disruptors, and not in the coopted sense of the word. I’ve been pondering the role of LinkedIn in the life of a contemplative mind such as mine and would truly appreciate hearing your insights. My return to this platform for business purposes has left me feeling somewhat like a fish out of water. Have any of you encountered similar challenges?

It was in those Blueberry pre-Bug’s Life days in the late ’90s, I had the privilege of meeting polymath Steve Jobs at the first annual Shareholder’s meeting for Pixar. I can’t help but question whether the digital landscape has evolved. Would he, starting his journey today, find his place on LinkedIn? It appears that polymaths are lauded when they’ve reached the summit, yet the journey itself can be isolating, particularly in the digital sphere.

My inclination towards pointing out the proverbial elephants in the room doesn’t always align with the corporate types on platforms like LinkedIn. As a solopreneur, I find myself contemplating where I fit into that ecosystem.

While I am keen to give LinkedIn a fair shake, I can’t help but observe a preference for conformity over substance and quality. Is this a sentiment you resonate with, or is it perhaps it’s just me? I’m pondering taking a brief hiatus from the platform until my business improves, spending more time in spaces that foster genuine discourse and the exploration of novel ideas—polymath forums being where I feel most comfortable. Are there like-minded, free-thinking polymaths on LinkedIn? I’m told there are plenty of us here.

People are telling me there are plenty of free thinkers on LinkedIn, and that “troublemakers” like myself may not mesh as well with more corporate or academic content guidelines. My own experience may be anecdotal.  But I believe excessive conformity carries significant implications, even if not everyone encounters them. In my experience, pressure to conform can lead to less diversity of ideas (not to mention less diversity) entrenched notions, disincentives to risk-taking, groupthink, low innovations, and loss of creative thinkers.

Steve Jobs said creative design springs from the collision of diverse perspectives. While my personal observations may be subjective, the stifling unconventional thought remain valid. Though some forums may be more creatively open than others, maybe we can provide a space for free thinkers to push boundaries, question assumptions, and pioneer change. The contributions of nonconformists have driven human progress throughout history; their voices must not be marginalized.

Edmund Janas (I’m on Linkedin for now)