Someone at work today asked me why I don’t have a blog…
I was trying not to laugh, but there’s a whole lot of pressure being put on academics to use social media to promote their research at the moment.
It’s not that I don’t blog. Obviously – this exists. It’s that I don’t blog publicly. This blog is more or less anonymous for a reason.
I am an early career researcher. I am employed on short fixed-term contracts (3-12 months). My contract can be terminated with 24 hours notice at any time.
I can’t be critical of my university, my department, or my boss, without my job being threatened. And don’t kid yourself, that is a very real possibility. Everyone thinks academics are entitled to “free speech”. Which is true enough for those lucky folks who have tenure. For those of us on soft money with fixed term contracts? Exercising that right to free speech is more than likely to result in your contract not being renewed should you say something in the public domain that your more senior colleagues or university administration disagrees with. I’ve seen it happen more than once with my own eyes.
I mean heaven forbid you publicly denounce the current federal government plans to deregulate university tuition fees in Australia when your university administration publicly supports this policy.
Or how dare you make a public comment that you received death threats for failing to pass an international student who was going to have their student visa cancelled as a consequence? Don’t you know how much money they’re worth to the department?
Keep your mouth shut and your contract might get renewed for another 6 months. Speak out and don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
It’s not that I’m not active on social media. I am on Facebook, although that is a locked down personal account that I refuse to add people from work to, something I make no secret of. I am on Twitter and Tumblr – both personal accounts unrelated to work, but easy enough to find. I am on LinkedIn. And I am on ResearchGate. I keep LinkedIn and ResearchGate entirely professional and only post things directly related to my work.
Why then do I choose to blog anonymously? Because I want to actually speak the truth about what goes on in academia – in more than 140 characters. I want to discuss the shenanigans that go on behind closed doors. Academia isn’t all bad by any means, but there are some seriously messed up things that go on, and I don’t think it should be swept under the rug and ignored. I don’t think academics should be silent when there are serious problems with the system that need to be addressed.
And I can’t do that publicly without risking my job.