Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Advice to Blog-eagues

At least two of my colleagues (probably more) have blogs. Neither is particularly psuedonymous, which is fine, and their choice. In a bizarre twist, I actually found the first one via a mutual student, and the second via the first.

Now, there's no denying that reading a colleague's blog creates a kind of frisson of voyeuristic pleasure. I know both of the bloggers---one is in an allied department, and we're passing friendly, the other is a new faculty member with whom I sit on a contentious committee. What's interesting, of course, is to see the ways on which they reflect on particular events at which I was also present; how they characterize their own involvement, etc. For all of my years of blogging and reading blogs, it's really difficult in these moments to remind myself that everyone sounds like a narcissist in this format. That being said, it is definitively the case that the first blogger exhibits these same tendencies in her daily activities. [To wit: when she writes a post about how she alone worked her ass off to put together an all-campus event, ignoring the hours of work that other faculty and staff put on, it's not just a convenient writing position. It is, in fact, the way that she represents that work to her colleagues and administrators.]

There's little advice that I can or would offer to Blogger #1; she's not one to listen to advice, let alone take it. Blogger #2, however, is a different story. Here's the situation: her blog is not only NOT psuedonymous, it's easily googled by her name. She's got prominent pictures of herself, her children, etc. on the blog. None of this is an issue in and of itself, of course; lots of people have professional blogs. But the content of this blog---that's what scares me a bit. I've read posts where she logs her daily activities (down to loading and unloading the dishwasher). What's the big deal, you ask? Well, if we were a different kind of institution (e.g., one that actually placed a good deal of emphasis on faculty research), this kind of log could be read as a "lack of commitment." [Don't laugh; a well-known practice at my previous institution was the dean's habit of driving by the faculty office buildings at night to see who was still "burning the midnight oil.]

More pressing, however, is the other kind of information that she includes. Marital issues, mental health issues and documenting of her various experiences with different kinds of medication... For the record, none of these things are bad; in fact, the blogosphere is a great place to share these experiences. And maybe she's invested in all of that being public. But I fear for her. I'd be worried about my colleagues and, in particular, my students, capitalizing on that information. [In my eyes, it's made her more sympathetic, for sure, but I've also begun to seriously doubt her when she discusses the impact of the internet on students and teaching.]

Part of me wants to pull her aside and just double check: "hey, so I came upon your blog. Have you thought at all about who might be reading it?" And then part of me thinks that I should just leave it alone. I have no desire to open up a more friendly relationship with this blogger. And who says that she wouldn't resent it?

Still, I can't help but think that SOMEONE should check with her...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Egads! Intervention is definitely in order. Maybe you could send her an anonymous email or make an anonymous post on her blog?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:09:00 PM  
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