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When Did LinkedIn Become a Dating Site?!

Definitely Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

It’s bad enough on Facebook. But when did Leisure Suit Larry start showing up on LinkedIn?

For those who don’t know the reference, Leisure Suit Larry was the lead character in a series of video games about a balding, obnoxious man in his 40s who went to great lengths to seduce attractive young women. His ammo was a leisure suit from the 70s disco era and plenty of double-entendres. He wasn’t very successful.

Fast forward to the age of social media, and Larry’s persona has been taken up by older guys with an Internet connection around the world. They’re usually found on Facebook, where they’re easily identified because their friend request shows at most only one or two connections, they have almost no posting history (or it’s the same photo repeated half a dozen times), and they self-identify as a doctor, business executive, or military general. Sometimes the photos they use look suspiciously like stock photos you’ve seen elsewhere … or used by other wannabe Larrys.

Now, I’m no sweet young thing and haven’t been for many, many years. So it astounds me how many friend requests I get on Facebook from one variety of Larry or another. Poor guys, they must be desperate, wrangling for any female connection they can get in any part of the world. I wonder how successful any of them can be, that they continue to do this from thousands of miles away in the middle of a pandemic. Do they really expect anything to happen? Hmmm… perhaps a few are instead just scamsters, using flattery and lavishing attention on naïve or lonely women to wrangle away their money….

I typically delete the friend request as soon as I spot it, but in the name of research for this blog, I actually replied to the introductory “hello” from a few Larrys. Had to see if anything has changed over the past few years. Nope. Sure enough, it was the same old schtick. All it took was one simple “hello” back before the Larry started asking personal questions. The type that you simply don’t ask someone you don’t know. These exchanges usually came to a sudden halt when I replied that I was happily married with kids, “just in case you’re going down that road.” Sometimes, though, you just have to unfriend and block the more persistent Romeos.

Larrys pop up on Instagram, too, but I’ve been surprised (and rather disappointed) to see them occasionally showing up on LinkedIn. Come on now! Facebook and Instagram, I can understand; most people use them to share their personal lives. But LinkedIn is for business networking! And the majority of users – and practically all women, I think - want to keep it that way.

I’ve talked to women of all ages about this Larry phenomena. And we’ve all experienced it, on one platform or another. We kind of expect it on most other social media platforms, but we’re all in agreement that it just doesn’t belong on LinkedIn. It’s the one social media forum that you’d think was the least likely for Larrys to lurk. Don’t you suppose that the Larrys would look for easier, more naïve, and less suspecting prey than business and other professional women on LinkedIn? Maybe we’re just giving the Larrys too much credit in the reasoning department. Or perhaps the Larrys figure that women who network for business are too busy to have invested in their personal lives and thus are eagerly receptive to their digital catcalls.

In our dreams, one day we’ll each have a Larry detector attached to our profiles, so that LinkedIn automatically reroutes each and every Larry to Tinder, where they can happily swipe right to their hearts’ content. In the meantime, I guess we’ll just keep our fingers poised over the delete key. And talk about how the pickup lines never change, the delivery just evolves with the times.


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