Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I decided quite awhile ago that this wouldn't be another one of those cloak-and-dagger-life-in-academia blogs. You know the ones I'm talkng about? The ones with authors who all seem to be sporting flashy noms de guerre and all refer to their family members with catchy pseudonyms or abbreviations? (Note to those blog people--if you're in academia and you identify your subject of study and the fact that you're in a tenure-track position in a major midwestern state school, I can find you in less than 10 minutes whether you want me to or not.) I hate the kind of rhetoric that floats out from behind these masked identities. People seem to think that because they are "anonymous," they are somehow protected from institutional control, and thus their writing is more "real" and "accessible" since it is "uncensored" and "tells it like it really is." My opinion? We could use a little more self-censorship on the web. If you can get fired for saying it in public, make a choice: either say it outloud anyway and really challenge the system, or keep it to yourself. Speaking out when there is nothing at stake isn't particularly useful. More importantly, it isn't particularly interesting (to me).

That's actually two decisions I made: 1) don't write a whiny "the academy sucks and this is why" blog with a fake name and location (I'm at University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign if you couldn't figure that out for yourselves) and 2) never read anonymous blogs again. Decision #1 wasn't particularly drastic--I don't write in any form of journal much anymore, so not going through the effort to write long (yet mysterious) passages on the view from the second floor of the ivory tower isn't exactly a hardship. Decision #2 required some thought, but then I realized, of all the anonymous blogs I read, I only ever enjoy one. I'd much rather read Francis' thoughts on can openers or Josh's take on Rex Morgan than...well...I won't link to the kind of writing that bores me to death. There's critical, and then there's mean, and I'm not in the mood to be mean.

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