Thursday, April 03, 2008

This is What Brings Me Back?

On of the reasons I don't post is I'm afraid of controversy. I don't like being attacked, and I especially don't like being attacked for something I haven't said. Since that was a response to one of my first posts, I'm even more extremely gun-shy.
But the essay here that Dr. Crazy, New Kid, FemaleScienceProfessor, and others, responded to, makes me just too mad to stay out.
Has the man never heard of Dooce?
Okay. Granted. That was, what, 6, 7, more? years ago, and in the accelerated evolution of electronic media, that's generations. But the woman was fired for blogging "dirt" about her company. I would like Mr. (Professor? Dr.?) Plagens to illustrate other industries where critical bloggers are welcome. Because I can't think of any.
That doesn't mean there aren't any, it just means it isn't common.
And academia is.
Oh, sure, we get lots of flex time; we work harder than many industries and get less credit (both monetary and "regular") than many industries; we get to think about things instead of working with our hands (unless we work in a discipline -- engineering; art -- that requires it, but even then it's a different kind of handiwork); lots of other things that make us special.
But we're still an industry, and we're still made up of people. People of all kinds. Despite the dream of the ivory tower, academia is just as full of divas and blowhards and cranks as any other industry. That is, it's just as full of people who do not want anyone to be different from themselves, and who will do everything in their power to make sure difference is squashed. (To misquote Anastasia from months ago when she went to a conference, for a bunch of liberals academics can be awfully conservative.) More to the point, the power held by such people can be quite considerable. In fact, it seems to me that only in the entertainment industry is it as easy to guarantee you'll never eat lunch in this town again; despite the desperate wish for a meritocracy, academia is rife with gossip and who-you-know-ness.
New Kid & Profgrrrrl addressed the Google question. They addressed it from the point of view of their students, but I do think there is still an attitude that academics should not have lives outside of academia. If you have time to blog about leaky faucets, or the cute apron you sewed up yesterday, you're not working hard enough.
Finally, being on the internet in and of itself is risky. I had posted pictures of our daughter on my professional website, and my husband asked me to take them down because he doesn't want something to happen to her. Sounds paranoid, right? It probably is -- but just go read FSP's post, and see if you still think pseudonymity is really just a response of a "fragile, frightened creature."