>Merging worlds

>I started following someone on Twitter today based on their blog’s “About Me” profile. I always read these things, and they vary from bog-standard to alluring to TMI to friendly. The one today that prompted my Follow? It was definitely friendly. The author (who is a writer) comes across as witty, self-deprecating and engaging.

The thing that I liked most was the way in which Karen Andrews talked about herself as partner/wife, mother and professional in nicely merged ways. These aspects of her life turn up in the blog, which is one of those rare, well-written things that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That said, it also gives appropriate weight to the importance of life’s mundane elements, which I appreciate. I can’t stomach a high-theory diet when it comes to blog-reading. I have to do enough of that as part of my everyday work; I really don’t want to slog through it in my down-time.

I’ve deliberately kept this blog away from too much family material. There are very occasional entries about my tri-generational household, and one or two about what’s happening in our garden, but that’s about it. Part of this was my paranoia of the internets and an assumption that people would be able to stalk me on the basis of an off-the-cuff comment I’d make about my local shops.

The paranoia has receded a smidge. It was quite an unrealistic demarcation to make, anyway, as this blog is tied to the Real Me, and there is no other person in the world with my name (or so Google sez…).

Being an academic, my name is plastered all over the place because publicising via the internet is at the core of most ‘professional activities’: articles and book entries on various booksellers/library catalogues, edited publications I’ve done and contributors have listed them on their virtual CVs, conference and seminar programmes, grant application rounds, news about conferences I’ve convened that live forever in academic association archives…

I mean, I run a research network, so how anonymous can I be? Well, OK, I never set out to be anonymous. I started this blog with my real name for a reason. I have been through phases of wanting to hide behind an online handle because I thought that I would feel free to write all manner of liberated and scandalous material.

Through various experiments, I know now that I don’t work that way. I really like engaging with people virtually, but when I do, it is mostly with the expectation that I will some day, somehow, meet them face-to-face. This also explains why I may withdraw engagement; it’s probably because I’ve decided I don’t want to meet the person face to face ever.

This post is titled ‘Merging Worlds’ because I’ve decided to desegregate my life a little.

The Banana Lounge’s earlier life tended to be more ‘faux-AASRN’, but now the network is up and running, with its own nifty website and newsfeed (just wanted to insert a plug for Inventive Labs, the crew who designed our site and host us: they were excellent to work with, and their Blueprint interface is super-easy to use).

This has always been a personal blog, rather than a purely professional one, but the ‘personal’ that showed was highly filtered and, for example, almost totally excluded my life as a mother/parent. I think this was because I didn’t want to seem ‘unprofessional,’ or to have my (trite) observations about everyday baby-wrangling brought up at conference-side conversations. Chances are, this flagged my insecurities as a mother in academia more than anything else. When I was doing my PhD, the overwhelming number of female academics around me did not have children. Right now, in the school I’m in (which is a different field from where I did my doctorate), just about every second female academic has kids. Is it a disciplinary or generational gap, I wonder?

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2 thoughts on “>Merging worlds

  1. e 03/09/2010 / 7:24 am

    >yeah…been thinking about author function and blogs. What is a name? no no no…don't want to think about Foucault et al… i suppose it's also why you blog – great post. and thanks for introducing us to the misc mum blog. i'm kind of lazy and use your blogroll links most of the time. 🙂 Oh another thing, one of the reasons I wasn't so afraid to go back into academia is because of you and this blog..and you showed it was possible to engage with the things that you do in academia and remain .. human. my friend cathryn sums up this shift in culture better than i can. will try to dig it up.

  2. tseen 23/09/2010 / 12:39 am

    >"you showed it was possible to engage with the things that you do in academia and remain .. human"I loved seeing this! It's hard, sometimes, to retain perspective b/c immersing yourself in the work you do is often a way to survive the vagaries of academia and its consistent angst. I think I'm lucky to have S., who's non-aca (and v. sceptical of aca poseurs); he's a v. grounding person.I've cannibalised your links a few times; it's all give and take! 😀

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