Blogging under one’s own name
Today I saw a rather disturbing article at the Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s been commented on already by Bitch Ph.D. and by Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
I’ve been blogging under my own name, on and off, for years (http://dumpendebat.net is my fourth URL). It’s articles like this one that are really making me question the wisdom of continuing to do so. What’s especially amazing to me is that this article didn’t appear in some business magazine, but in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. I was under the (mis)impression that the academic community was all in favor of blogging; after all, who likes to write and opine more than academics do? Yet, look at this:
Professor Turbo Geek’s blog had a presumptuous title that was easy to overlook, as we see plenty of cyberbravado these days in the online aliases and e-mail addresses of students and colleagues.
But the site quickly revealed that the true passion of said blogger’s life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of software systems, server hardware, and other tech exotica. It’s one thing to be proficient in Microsoft Office applications or HTML, but we can’t afford to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science after a few weeks on the job.
Right. A little computer knowhow, no prob. But “minutiae” and “exotica”? Put down the DIMM module and back away from the server slowly, you freak. You’ve got no business whatsoever in this department. It’s obvious what the “true passion” of your life really is. How could we trust you with students, you computer-loving liar? Who are you trying to fool? We read your blog.
(The pseudonymous author of this article has obviously never heard of hobbies, or at least has a pathological disapproval of them.)
Professor Shrill ran a strictly personal blog, which, to the author’s credit, scrupulously avoided comment about the writer’s current job, coworkers, or place of employment. But it’s best for job seekers to leave their personal lives mostly out of the interview process.
The pseudonymous author neglects to mention whether “Professor Shrill” provided the committee with the URL of his/her blog, or whether they just Googled her/him. Either way, the author admits there was nothing untoward on “Shrill’s” blog, but “Shrill” got 86ed anyway. Why? Just because.
But oh, this paragraph is a thing of beauty:
The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.
Past good behavior is no guarantee against future burglaries, either. Who’s to say that blogger might not break into your office late one night and steal your laptop? After all, we all know what kind of people have weblogs: tech freaks and/or “shrill” people who need “therapy.” Oh, and academic frauds (read the article for more on that one).
But I guess it’s worse than I thought; if academics, who (I think) are all about reading, writing, and exchanging opinions, are losing out on job opportunities because of their weblogs, then anyone would be crazy to blog under his/her real name.
Everybody already knows my name, where I live, etc. (or could find out in less than five minutes without much effort), and I really don’t care much. That horse got stolen, so to speak, years ago, and it’s too late to go back and lock the barn door. Anyone who doesn’t like my opinions is, obviously, free not to read them. Anyone who likes to play armchair psychologist is more than welcome to do so. And if someone decides not to trust me because I write things and post them on the Internet for other people to read, there’s not much I can do about that. I am going to use the fig leaf of a pseudonym from now on, for propriety’s sake.
I guess blogging under your own name is like smoking cigarettes: the smartest thing is never to start in the first place.
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