Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Open Discussion: How Did You Think "Others Day" Went?

Comment below & thank you.




69 comments:

  1. Better than I expected. But you're never going to convince everyone not to "minimize" other people's experiences. It's the nature of the internet, perhaps. A couple of comments last night were the kind of thing I know you counsel us against, going after each other, but I really enjoyed the new posts.

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    1. It made me want to write some new posts!!! I felt like I was missing out. Nice job everyone who arranged it. Thanks to the new people especially!

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  2. I want to thank everyone so much for the feedback on my post yesterday. I actually feel so relieved that so many wanted to help me get over what has been a crippling problem. I am going to reach out a lot more to my colleagues, and I have all of your support to thank for that decision.

    Janice (Not Really) in Jacksonville...

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  3. I gave one reply that I feel was relatively civil and maybe even helpful, and one where I just vented my spleen and was an absolute ass. Fab called me out on it, rightly, and I feel bad about it, despite my glib response. I'll try to do better.

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  4. I really enjoyed hearing so many new voices, and learned a lot. I take exception with what the moderator told me was so "different" about the blog though. The rules were not applied fairly and I was insulted. If that's okay with you then you shouldn't even have the rule.

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    1. Well, as I said in the thread on the original post, I fucked up, and I'm sorry. I'll take this opportunity to apologize to you directly. I'm sorry. I should not have been so aggressive and hateful. It's really not like me (well, sort of not like me).

      That said, I do think you need a reality check, as do many in this field. It's frustrating to encounter, over and over, people who get into higher education with expectations that amount, in so many words, to thinking it's not actually going to be real work. I just don't know how people get so far removed from reality. I'd had a particularly bad day, your comments touched a sore spot for me, and I responded very badly. The fact that I think you perhaps are naive about certain things in NO WAY excuses how I chose to express that or the attitude I took toward you. I apologize, in the words of John Cleese, unreservedly.

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    2. Denny, fwiw, I like them leaving the"mean comments" up because it also offers an opportunity for those who support you to rally to your side, just like in a real community, and offers insight that perhaps we wouldn't have heard. I've had some mean comments on my posts that weren't taken down, and they offered me a chance to reflect on whether I needed to adjust my attitude (and in some cases, I did need it). Were they immediately deleted, I may not have changed my mind or grown. That said, it's not a nice way to welcome new people to the community.

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  5. I want to be clear that I think you can have any sort of blog you want.

    But I put some of the blame at Fab Sun's door. I had an extensive email conversation with him where he assured me that this was an open community. I sensed he wants that, but clearly that's not what he's got. He's hopelessly naive about that, but I believe somewhat well intentioned.

    What you have here is a closed system. Those who hew closely to the standard fare are safe and cozy. The students are out to get us and undefeatable. The manic Deans are riding herd on us. Most of us teach part-time and are abused. This is all valid, and all real. I don't doubt that misery one bit.

    But, then the usefulness of this blog is small. With no dissent, there is no progress. You can look it up.

    I like the page, and have enjoyed reading it the past while, but I know now that my type of voice is not wanted here. And again, I'm perfectly okay with that.

    But be truthful about what you are and what you'll accept.

    And somebody clue Fab Sun in on it, because he thinks the page is something it is not.

    Good luck, oh, and courage!
    Yuri

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    1. Yuri,

      Perhaps you might think about applying your (wise) words to yourself: have some courage. I don't know why you expect to make a shtick of calling people lazy cowards and not get some pushback on it.

      "No dissent, no progress" applies to you, too, you know.

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    2. Yuri, I don't think it is fair to say your post was not accepted. You got some decent feedback on it, and you did not engage any of that feedback. I think you should have. You started a dialogue that now you don't seem to want to finish because you did not get enough rousing agreement. Why is that?

      And don't rag on Fab. Most of us don't agree with you that the page is purporting to be something it is not. Just read the "What is CM" explanation over on the right. It announces quite clearly what the blog is, with no deception.

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    3. Okay, now, see, I have a moment of self-awareness and pledge not to be such a cranky jerk, and then Yuri comes along and leaves this...

      Look, Yuri, you need to adjust to the idea that "fails to agree with you" doesn't mean "closed-minded." In your postings here, I've seen a lot of people offer sustained, well-argued criticisms of your (often insensitive, parochial, and privileged) observations. What I haven't seen is much in the way of engagement with any of that feedback. It seems that you don't much register anything other than unqualified agreement. Given that you're in administration, that tracks.

      But see, Fab? This is what I meant by asking why we should think everyone ought to come back. Tagging Denny with that was wrong. He's in need of someone grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him, but I get why he needs a good shaking. It's understandable, and I was a dick to treat him so roughly.

      But Yuri? Sorry, but someone who doesn't know how to engage with legitimate feedback is someone we can do without. If he doesn't come back, well, I can't say I'll be all that tore up about it.

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    4. Yuri, you and others have lamented that lack of progress that this page makes or its lack of goals for improving things in academia. That's setting the bar too high. How about the blog being a place to bitch and complain, laugh at our shared frustrations and connect with people who understand our problems? That's a pretty damn good goal and it's one we achieve on a regular basis.

      You and I probably agree on a lot of things. I've occasionally stirred the pot a little too much around here. I can tell you that you need to keep your audience in mind. You've read the page long enough to know the type of faculty we have around here (i.e. not all TT). If you want to say something that you know will piss people off, you need to back it up. Don't just say something and walk away from the criticism. You're no wilting flower. Engage in the conversation that you start.

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    5. That's well said, Ben. Yuri has been in touch with me via email this morning and says he feels he's learned a lot about a "different" type of faculty member, which I'm sure we can beat up on him for as well.

      I understand the complaints about him, I really do. I admit I'm guilty trying to moderate the page in such a way that we do not attack each other. I care more about that than the goddamn hit counter! (And everyone knows how I feel about that.)

      But I guess I've lost this particular battle. It annoys me when we go after folks on the page. That wasn't what I had in mind when I started the page in 2010. But I've butted my head up against the problem constantly in the time we've been online, and I am plumb out of ways in which to encourage people to think likewise.

      I've said what I can about it, and anyone who's been here probably recognizes when my heart is broken over it.

      Fab

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    6. Fab, even the best members of the CM community lash out after a bad day. There's only so much you or anybody can do.

      However, the rest of us can step up. If somebody says something out of line to another commenter, the rest of us can respond with support. The bad comment is still there and might hurt its target's feelings but we can at least not let it sit there, as if we approve.

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    7. What I'm at a loss to understand here is why Yuri feels he needs special treatment in order to express "dissenting views". Why not jump into the fray like everybody else? If the views are defensible, and supported by good arguments, they'll bring variety to the blog. Active academic? Check. With professional misery to report? Check, presumably . (Let's hear it.) Then you "belong" here (in the same sense that anyone else does.) What's not okay is making "challenging" posts once in a while, then essentially doing a flounce (and otherwise basically not commenting.) The way one starts to "belong" to an online community is by commenting often. (It does not depend on being "accepted", though of course the experience is more pleasant if one is.)

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    8. Fab, the last thing I want to do is be party to breaking your heart, but I think there needs to be a distinction made between "attacking each other" and "calling bullshit when there's a pile of it sitting on your shoe."

      What I did to Denny was an attack. I have repented of it several times, but I bring it up because it makes a good example of what NOT to do.

      But I think calling Yuri on his bullshit is acceptable - no, I think it HAS to be acceptable for this to be a place where reasonable discourse happens. He has demonstrated insensitive cluelessness and an unwillingness to engage with or treat seriously any criticism. I don't think we ought to be counseled to just let that sort of thing go.

      Short version: I like that we are encouraged to be civil to one another, but I don't think that should go so far as to obligate us not to call out bad behavior and/or cluelessness when we see it.

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    9. Fab, with all possible gentleness:

      The microaggressions (intentional or not) are always harder for me to stomach than the outright attacks.

      What got me yesterday wasn't the more pointed headdesks/areyoufuckingkiddingmes, it was your "We almost made it through the day. Oh well." comment under Frog and Toad's "There's another word for brave: privileged."

      Frog and Toad has been remarkably upfront about the ways in which they do not have privilege - more-so than any other CM member I can think of. I say remarkably because every time these kinds of questions of identity, privilege, and power come up on the blog, wagons get circled, offensive shit gets said, and the climate gets chillier.

      I do not enjoy that many rocks in my bourbon.

      Of all of the comments made yesterday, *that* was the one to prompt the "this is why we can't have nice things" response?

      It sends a powerful message, whether or not you meant it to.

      Even on the internet, I can handle myself in a fair fight. If I put myself out there, I expect to have to be able to support my position.

      It's the conversations about why shutting down people who are already marginalized to begin with is just not OK that are bloody exhausting. I have to do that day in and day out with my real-life colleagues and students. I don't want to have to do it here. And every time I feel like I have to, or even worse, can't because it's just not ok or worth it to speak up? That's when I feel unwelcome.

      I think we have a good thing here, and I thank you for that.

      But I also think we need to think a little harder about the positions we speak from before we do so.

      Thanks for hearing me.

      Best,

      DiaMC

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    10. @DiaMC Privilege is a very touchy subject. I kept my mouth shut when you called me privileged (I was a bit taken aback; you really know nothing about me), but when you call someone privileged you are more or less quantifying and then ranking their experiences. You are looking them in the eye and saying "No. Your hardship was not as MUCH as theirs. You are privileged." And the issue with that is that different things impact us in different ways. I have a real life example from a friend my age. When she was ten, she went to the circus with her family. She enjoyed the performance and, when she went to the bathroom with her mother, she saw a clown on his break smoking a cigarette. And for some reason it absolutely traumatized her. Therapy was fruitless. To this day if she hears the word "clown" and is unprepared for it she passes out. Something that is trivial to 99.9% of the population had a very real, very acute negative impact on her. That's why there's such a huge issue with saying "The suffering from THIS is better than the suffering from THAT." Or variations thereof. You're minimalizing things that are probably very salient for some people which can be very hurtful.

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  6. What is up with all you crazzy mothers up in the middle of the night?

    I liked others day. It was nice to see some new faces around the old academic watercooler.

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  7. I thought the day went well, overall. I was one who thought Wydlomayer's post should have been pulled, according to our rules. And I do get that he was having a bad day. And I think Wydlomayer is great. Fab tells me that many people wrote in right away telling him NOT to pull it, that he is too quick to pull things. So, clearly, Fab can't win and takes a lot of abuse from both sides of the playing field.

    Now, with all the comments about it and the apology, it would be silly to pull it.

    I also apologize because I feel like I started it with my reference to Dennis Leary's STFU routine. I honestly thought that was sort of funny, and I see myself, indeed most people, in that routine, at different points in their life.

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  8. It was a good day. Good experiment.
    Yuri was right.
    Denny was right.
    Fab was right.
    Next time, there should be more bourbon.

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading posts from "new voices". (I haven't been here so long myself, about a year I think. I'm still wondering what the duck thing is.) I left comments on a few of them. Also on Yuri's (late last night, with a glass of wine next to me.) I think Yuri is/was an administrator, and that point of view belongs here, too.

    But I kept wondering, why is this necessary? I found the page, thought I had something I wanted to say, and started posting. Sure, there are old-timers who interact with each other on a more informal level. I'm not one of them, and I don't do "informal" online very well anyway. That's fine, I don't feel "left out" because of it.

    Also, I post from a slightly different POV than maybe most people, and I pretty much say what I think, without worrying that it's a minority opinion (as sometimes it seems to be). Very often there is a positive response, which is more than enough to keep me coming back (and it's also fun to read posts from much better writers than myself, and from different "sectors" of academia.) When there's no response, that's okay too. So far I've stayed out of drama, but if there's ever an ad hominem attack, I'll just ignore it.

    What I don't understand is taking a divergence of opinions on an internet discussion board personally, to react emotionally to it. Heated exchanges are silly, but if one avoids discussion entirely, the blog loses a little of its potential value.

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    1. And oh (how could I forget) back in January I met Strelnikov, in person. How many "insiders" can claim that, huh? Huh? We met in a dark basement (he posted a grainy photo) and exchanged old stories from Mother Russia over bad vodka. He really knows a lot about Soviet weaponry, and we didn't have time to get to military aircraft (more my thing.)

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    2. Where else but a dark basement would you meet Strelnikov? Perhaps on the battlefield.

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    3. The Duck! It's my only claim to useful fame on this page. The Incomplete History at the bottom of the sidebar has a note about it that says this:

      There is a duck. The duck was popularized in CM lore by Terry P. It's often evoked to change the topic, defuse a tense situation, or because it's such a good looking fucking duck.

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    4. Oh thanks. It really is a good looking duck. Or drake.
      Alle meine Entchen
      schwimmen auf dem See,
      Köpfchen in das Wasser,
      Schwänzchen in die Höh.

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    5. ROFLMAO. I have another German poem to memorize.

      This one is more cheerful than Der Panther.

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    6. @introvert, it's a children's song (pre-K level).

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    7. I know. That doesn't make it any less fun.

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  10. Where the hell was Cal yesterday? Nobody plays that much golf, right?

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    1. I'm Cal, too. But only half. The good half.

      I think Cal is the only person on the blog who is actually out as himself. He hardly needs another identity.

      Fab

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    2. Shitfire, there are only 4 of us. Everyone has to be someone. I'm Janice, by the way. Hey, Fab, is there a Real Goddamned Mail coming? I'd think so after yesterday.

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    3. I'm sorry. I was Yuri. I didn't take my lithium yesterday. Sorry. Back on my meds just like Carrie on Homeland.

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    4. I thought Denny and Wylodmayer were the same person...

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  11. I am an "other" and I missed most of it...*sighs* I did read some last night, but I was so swamped yesterday to try and take part by replying.

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  12. I enjoyed "others" day. Some may disagree, but I enjoyed the volume of posts as much as the content.

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  13. Yesterday was the most interesting series of posts, overall, that we've had at CM. The new perspectives were enjoyable to read.

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    1. I'm with Ben. It was a kick, even though they were a bit depressing. How could they not me, the fucking page is called The College Misery!

      Commiserate, right? That's why we gather in this way. And the drink.

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    2. I liked the variety, but think we could have spread it out over more than a single day and interspersed it with regular posters so it seamlessly just became an ordinary day. But I'm hoping that's what these folk will do now: just post regularly instead of waiting for an invitation.

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    3. The others I corresponded with did not want to be interspersed with long time correspondents.

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    4. Without knowing they were new, I couldn't have guessed it from the posts. They sounded just like us. Which (I think) is a good thing.

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    5. Fab: so they WANTED to be differentiated from long-time poster? I thought people wanted to be viewed as "insiders" and to "join the clique." I'm confused now. To me, having posts featured as "the others" seems even more distancing than simply jumping in the pool.

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    6. Yes, although I can't say everyone said that specifically. The ones I did correspond with, including some who decided not to post, said they wanted the freedom to get up and running on the page without "competing" with long time community members. They also thought doing it one day was best.

      If either of those decisions didn't work, then it's on me.

      Fab

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    7. Oh, I see how that might make sense. Thanks for explaining.

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  14. I also taught all day yesterday, hardly had time to sit down and eat lunch. I enjoyed the posts, but would have liked a bit more space to process and discuss, I think we could have stretched it to a week! Still, I hope folks stick around CM.

    Yes, we are occasionally grumps to each other (new and old alike). Most of us have been to a faculty meeting. One person throws out an opinion and there are equal measures of applause and eye-rolling. And those are people I'm sharing the room with.

    We're not 4chan or reddit here, but this is a pseudo-anonymous academic blog where we should all come to trade ideas, complaints, and perspectives. It's easy to burn folks here if you want, but you're also likely to see an apology as well. I don't see that a lot of places. Be willing to be challenged, be willing to apologize, be willing to be wrong. If you're an academic and you don't have those things down yet, then talk to your significant other/cats instead. Blogs might not be for you.

    But I say jump in, post some comments, and join the fun. There is bourbon enough for all...

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  15. Thanks. Thanks for posting all those posts. It was interesting to see the same theme in many of these posts. It says something about our profession that there is little direct feedback that is useful to us. Better than a teaching award would be to see our profession be given more positive press. People think we stand up and talk for a few hours a week.

    I almost changed careers but I did a job shadow, and changed my mind. Perhaps, future professors like Denny should do a real job shadow. Not being a TA, but a traditional job shadow, one that comes complete with a faculty meeting, jammed copier, crying student, texting students, publication rejections, and the foot high stack of grading.

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  16. Did we scare Stella off? Where are you, Stella?

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    1. I hope Stella will return, but it's my understanding that she will not.

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    2. Thanks for the info.I hope she returns, too. Did I miss a "farewell" or did it just happen silently?

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    3. I was afraid of that. I will miss her most.

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    4. If she's anything like her CM persona, Stella does not "scare off." I'm sorry to lose her; she's been an important voice here.

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    5. Oh, dear. I hope she's just taking a hiatus, and will be back. She's got one of the best b.s. detectors around, and isn't afraid to use it.

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  17. I enjoyed it, and was glad to see new posters with a range of experience/age/rank, though it skewed on the newbie (professor as well as poster) side. I think one of the major strengths of this place is that those lower on the totem pole (in terms of age, employment security, or both) can say things that they might not say directly to their own higher-on-the-totem-pole colleagues. What surprises me is when the at least nominally more powerful/privileged fail to understand how different things might look from another perspective (then again, I shouldn't be surprised, 'twas ever thus when it comes to differences in power/privilege).

    Anyway, thanks for making it possible, Fab and the others. And please come back, everybody; the regulars (mostly) don't bite, even if you venture in alone.

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    1. Go fuck yourself, Scott. Fab would never out you, but I will.

      Leslie K.

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    2. And by "this," I mean your response, Leslie K. :)

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  19. Good for you, Leslie K.! Protect the compound!!!

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