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The Power of Thirst Traps: What’s It Doing on LinkedIn?

Ever heard about the thirst trap?

Yes?

No?

Whichever your answer is, we need to get to know what is a thirst trap, why it has been going viral up to this day, and why it has resurfaced as one of the latest news in the most unlikely and professional social media platform known to users internationally: LinkedIn.

The Origin of the Trap: The Sexualization of Thirsty

There is no definite timeline for when the thirst trap emerged, but it rose to fame around the same time as when social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram did. Though the trap itself was a phenomenon that initially trended on Instagram, the word ‘thirsty’ became sexualized during the same timeline. At first, the term was defined as someone wanting attention through social media, but since it dominated social media feeds, it has now become the worldwide synonym for being horny.

Thirst Traps are the epitome of enticing whoever your audience is and getting them to comment on your highly exposed and sexual photo with the intent of getting attention, likes, and comments. It comes in different forms, like:

  • Open Invitations: These are messages sent straight to your DM, enticing you with sexual content that’s either conveyed bluntly or implied. Examples of open invitations include instances wherein people ask you to join a group for sexual content or ask you directly for it.
  • Text: These are often seen in captions of photos or videos posted online. When people put text in their stories that have a flirtatious tone to them, it is also considered a text thirst trap.
  • Videos and Images: These are the actual content posted that are meant to be flirtatious, but not too much to the extent that it outwardly implies anything remotely sexual. Examples of these include posting a photo of you wearing a skimpy bikini outside with the caption, “Feeling hot, what about you?”, or something along those lines.

Now you know the different thirst trap forms, it’s no wonder why people love creating attention-grabbing content like these. The said act is summarized into one word which defines the whole shebang of thirst traps, validation. It is based on a theory by Robert Cialdini in 1984 in his book, Influence. He called validation as social proof wherein people copy the actions of others in certain situations to adapt to the situation at hand. This is exactly what is happening behind the thirst traps in LinkedIn.

A word of caution though, we are not saying that every photo you see that shows skin is a thirst trap. Always make sure to look at the intention of the individual posting the content before judging. However, setting traps has since then matured into a form of self-validation or an extrinsic method that says you look good and helps you get the approval of others as well.

When put in that manner, you are justifying one’s actions as something positive when in actuality, it really isn’t since it is still a way of getting the attention you want for yourself. With a tap of a finger, you are still allowing your self-esteem to get shattered and get a multitude of either sexual and hateful comments. 

With this in mind, it’s time to delve into how a thirst trap got on LinkedIn in the first place?

Invasion of the Thirst Traps: Is it appropriate on LinkedIn?

When you mention LinkedIn to anyone out there, whether to an expert or a novice, they’ll probably tell you that LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL networking platform. You use it to connect with other individuals in the industry and help each other grow your businesses, or land jobs on prestigious companies, but the reality is, thirst traps have become a well-known norm in the said platform.

How is that possible you might ask? In a recent interview by DMARGE with international tech advisor Geoff Quattromani and relationship advisor and expert Samantha Jayne, the phenomenon can be viewed from two different perspectives.

First is the tech side. Quattromani explained that the rise of thirst traps on the platform lies within LinkedIn’s algorithm itself. The algorithm loves to connect people with similar demographics, experiences, common interests, and seemingly identical or closely associated profile pictures. You read that right—LinkedIn will connect people/businesses who are not only mutual with experience but in terms of profile pictures as well.

Globally, one of the platform’s goals is diversity, but how are people supposed to connect with different populations when the algorithm only allows you to connect with people with similar physical appearances as yours? It sounds a bit racist, but who are we to judge what the algorithm means?

The second aspect of the Linkedin thirst trap involves relationships. Jayne’s simple response is this: It boils down to natural selection due to looks, based on Charles Darwin’s Evolution theory. The theory states that the people who look best suited to survive do get up in the world. Aside from that, another social psychology theory, called The Physical Attractiveness Stereotype comes into play when it comes to explaining why thirst traps have successfully invaded LinkedIn.

The Physical Attractiveness Stereotype is described as when people tend to see positive qualities in attractive people. Thus, you have to put your best foot forward with your LinkedIn profile pictures. This also gives all the more reason for people who set the traps to dress professionally while having some of their features accentuated to look flirty.

We are social beings as said by Aristotle, a Greek philosopher. Even in a professional social media platform like LinkedIn, there will always come a time that professionals would need to get the mass’s attention to sell their services or their companies’ services.

Are thirst traps appropriate on LinkedIn?

The answer is a resounding NO. Thirst trap posts deviate attention from your professional profile, which should be the core focus of your Linkedin account. It may be allowed on different social media networks that do not require a professional demeanor on your profiles, but Linkedin users must understand that while the algorithm may dictate how well you do on the platform, the way people perceive you as a professional will also greatly affect your image as an employee and your credibility as a representative of the company where you are currently employed.

Regulating how thirst trap-favoring algorithms influence your Linkedin connections may also be enhanced by content moderation. Receiving and seeing thirst traps are unwanted. Let moderators deal with people who set up their thirst traps and allow yourself a flirtatious-free feed or website or account. 

The bottom line is, LinkedIn is for professionals, make sure to think about your intent before posting since people will always make their judgments about you. If you’re not careful, it could cost your career or your business’ reputation.

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