Sunday, November 22, 2009

In Which Facebooking Elevates the Content of the Blog (Only to Make the Facebook Content Lame)

Alright. So in two particular ways, I do think that my participation in Fb has been good for the content of this here blog.

#1 Facebook takes care of my need to take quizzes, as well as of my meming needs. No longer do I litter up this space with quiz results or with memes.
#2 A lot of my general complaints now get sent the way of facebook status updates, as opposed to making it onto this here blog (I'm not Fb friends with immediate work colleagues, which contributes to this).

Except, apparently over the past few weeks, I've become a Facebook Vortex of Negativity. On the one hand, I don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing. It's a way for me to get the negativity out without devoting much time or space or thought to it. On the other hand, it really sucks, as it means that all many people (aunts, cousins, friends from elementary school, high school friends, etc.) hear from me is bitching. That's not really on, I'm not thinking. On the other hand, perhaps it's better than uber-positive updates about knitting projects and other erstwhile accomplishments, which annoy the fuck out of me when I read them in my own newsfeed, if they're not also tempered with things that aren't like "hey, look how great my life is! I'm so great! Can't you tell how great I am from my status updates!" which I read as disingenuous.

What's sort of interesting is that while there is some overlap between my blog audience and my Fb audience, there's also a lot of disparity. This disparity makes for some of the reason why I post some things here and some things there. Weirdly, I'm more public on the blog than I am on Fb, even though my name is not technically linked to the blog. I think that more people know who Dr. Crazy is in real life than are my friends on Fb. In fact, I know that's likely true. So the persona on the blog has in fact, since Fb, become more of a persona, whereas the real shit is obliquely and yet more accurately recorded through my Fb status updates. The result, however, is that real life people are worried that I'm super-duper stressed all the time, perhaps in part because they don't have access to the blog. Fb has become my dumping ground, whereas I think about a wider range of things on the blog, or at least a less immediate range of negative things.

So. I think I'm going to try for the next while not to be a vortex of negativity on Fb, while at the same time I don't let my negative feelings bleed over in stupid ways onto the blog. This is not to say that I won't feel the negative things, for clearly, that would be fucked up, to shut off the negative things that I genuinely feel. But rather that I won't poison other people so much with my negative things, whether on Fb or here.

Look, it's the end of the semester. I'm tired. I've applied for a ton of things for the coming semester and year (sabbatical, summer fellowship, course release, other monies) and I know about none of those yet. The only one I feel fairly secure in is sabbatical, and even that I wonder whether I'll get it, because I feel so downtrodden and abused lately. And I've been working like a dog. I'm pissed off, pretty much all the time. Not because of students or because of my job itself or even most of the time because of colleagues. It's just that I've been working so hard and I need tangible, concrete acknowledgment and reward for the work that I do. I know raises aren't happening anytime soon, and I know that times are tough. I know that nothing right now is a done deal, regardless of merit. But I've worked so hard and I've sacrificed so much and if none of my ships come in? Seriously? Who knows how I'll handle that. Because I need at least one of these to happen, I need at least some acknowledgment that somebody at this institution gets how much my work means. Especially since I recognize that I'm basically stuck here for the duration, given the economy and higher ed funding and the fact that I'm a tenured lady and given my field.

Here's the thing: I've got a lot of colleagues, senior to me, junior to me, across the university and within my department, who know that the work that I do matters. I got a lovely email from my chair today, even, complimenting me on my hard work. All of these people give me tons and tons of praise. And that means so much, in its way. But none of that is acknowledgment from the institution. Sure, I got tenure, and maybe I should be happy with that, but I'm not. Tenure here doesn't necessarily mean that upper administration gets it. Let's face it: tenure here is sort of a de facto position. It only means that you didn't suck enough to be denied. I want acknowledgment beyond my award of tenure. And maybe that makes me greedy, but that's how I feel. How I feel is like I need more than tenure. I need funding, I need time. I need the support to do the things that I can potentially do. And if that support doesn't come? I feel like I'm very close to giving up. I feel like I'm very close to checking out. I feel like I'm very close to becoming the kind of professor that I despise.

Lately, all of these feelings are very evident in my Fb updates, though I've been trying (though not always successfully) to keep this crap away from the blog. It's not good reading. I think that perhaps some positive thinking is in order. I think that perhaps giving in to the negativity will produce negative results.

10 comments:

life_of_a_fool said...

"I won't poison other people so much with my negative things, whether on Fb or here."

I've had this attitude lately too, thanks mostly to a colleague who is *always* negative. I get the complaining -- I do plenty of it myself and I understand the need for it -- but when it isn't tempered by a visible sense of humor? It gets really old really quickly. The upside is that it's make me super conscious of my own venting, so I try to do less of it.

(that's a general comment, not one directed at you in any way).

PhysioProf said...

I want acknowledgment beyond my award of tenure. And maybe that makes me greedy, but that's how I feel. How I feel is like I need more than tenure. I need funding, I need time. I need the support to do the things that I can potentially do. And if that support doesn't come? I feel like I'm very close to giving up. I feel like I'm very close to checking out. I feel like I'm very close to becoming the kind of professor that I despise.

That sounds very sucky.

My experience with administrators is that attempting to get them to give you shit you want based on arguments that you "need" or "deserve" the shit are doomed to failure and do nothing more than make you look like a fool. Rather, the way to get administrators to give you shit you want is to figure out the needs and goals of the administrator and then to construct an argument that giving you the shit you want will help the administrator to satisfy her needs and achieve her goals.

At least in the natural sciences, the most effective way to do this is to get another credible job offer that gives you at least some of what you seek from your own institution and then to explain to the administrator that while you love your institution and really want to stay there, the terms of the job offer are too good to pass up unless the institution does something to improve your situation. I have no idea if humanities faculty can use this particular tactic, but the bottom line is that strategically you need to convince the administration that it is going to be counter to their own needs and goals to not give you what you want.

Dr.X said...

Only thing to add to PhysioProf's good advice is don't be too hard on yourself. Near the end of the semester I get pretty tired and cranky too. A break may help.

Rokeya said...

I only post positive things on fb because I had to wade through a ridiculous shitstorm with some friends back when I would post things I wasn't pleased about. I'd rather be perceived as boringly positive than have someone tell me I'm being inappropriate for broadcasting my "ungratefulness." That sucked.

Susan said...

I hate to think that you have to get a job offer to get support. Clearly this can't be retrospective, but one thing you *can* do in the future is to say no. "No, I can't do this without this in place to help." And either they will give you the support, and you'll do whatever, or they won't, and you won't do it. You need to be willing, in this situation, to NOT do something.

Good luck. I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving. I'm feeling exhausted and stressed too.

Anastasia said...

I totally don't read you as a vortex of negativity on fb. or maybe I should put it this way: I've read so much worse. Really. :)

Dr. Crazy said...

Physioprof: I agree with you that saying one "needs" something is not a credible argument for resources. I was definitely talking about how I *feel* here - and not at all talking about how I've approached my applications for resources through my university's channels.

Re: outside offers, I think it's more than just a discipline-specific issue (though discipline surely is significant in terms of the ability to succeed on the market). My institution has been very clear about not entertaining attempts to negotiate with outside offers in all but the rarest of cases. You go to them with an outside offer? There position, typically, is "good luck to you in your new job." The other issue in my particular specialization right now is that there are just *no* jobs. Well, not "no" jobs - I exaggerate. This year I could have reasonably applied for 13 jobs - if I were willing to give up tenure - and of those 13, approximately 10 would be in situations no better than, and in the majority of cases worse than, my current situation (taking into account things like institution type, teaching load, location, etc.). I'd estimate that each of those jobs probably got no fewer than 150 applications. So sure, I could have gone on the market this year, but it really does feel to me like it would have been a waste of paper and energy. This is not to say I'll never apply for another job - just that at this point I really do appreciate the good points of my current job and understand where I fit into the broader market.

PhysioProf said...

Sounds like your institution's got you by the metaphorical balls.

Academic2 said...

sounds like you need to take care of yourself more.

The nice thing about research projects are that they don't go away. You don't have to do everything at once.

Firefly said...

I understand the problems associated with different layers of privacy or personae one needs in Fb and blogging. I understand your negativity and have had plenty of bouts of it in my job. But in some ways what you are complaining about, given the status of most people in the world, seems out of proportion. Yes, you deserve recognition, yes, things are not fair, yes, you should have more, yet much of this seems relative - you have a job which can be personally rewarding, you have a secure position, you have quite a bit of autonomy and freedom to research and write, yes, double standards in academia (for men and for instructors with families) but no absurd sexist laws or religious practices as exist elsewhere...
I am usually sympathetic to your issues and appreciate your ire, but in the greater scheme of things...
Mm - maybe it's a Thanksgiving after effect for me...