The case of the vanishing posts

Jun 09 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

I do my best, not even close to perfect, but my best, to support the junior faculty with whom I interact. I also draw on my circle of Women Profs of A Certain Age for some of the stories I tell her. I tell the stories because I believe they are useful to a larger group of people. I *always* change the names, sometimes the gender, and sometimes other identifying facts.

I have, once or twice, combined two people to make one, more coherent story. Anything:

that looks like this, in italic and a grey box is a real quote, from hearing, from my notes, from an email, from a tweet, as close as I can make it to what was said

albeit with identifiers (like my name) changed. Things that I paraphrase, I indicate that I paraphrase. I have probably slipped up, and made a few mistakes in this arena. For those I apologize.

I try to tell stuff in stories, because I know that somethings are easier to understand in stories. I tell stories because I like to tell stories, and because just writing a series of directives (Don't do this! Do this!) seems a bit heavy handed. A story leaves room for people to see themselves, or not, or see others, or not, and take advice, or not. Adding (fictional) names, giving people a voice, or even dialog seems to make for a better post.

But sometimes junior faculty don't feel supported, but threatened. I am tempted to respond by saying "not my intent", but there are times (and I disagree with my lawyer partner about this), heck most of the time, I think intent is irrelevant. It has come to my attention (one a bit ago, one very recent),  that somebody thinks I am writing about THEM. This would pretty funny, because in the recent case it's two separate somebodies at two different institutions. And, in this case, neither is correct. Yet, it is easy to feel threatened, or judged, or just plain insulted when one is a junior faculty. I know that.

So, I've taken a bunch of posts down. Sorry about that folks, but I don't think the loss is too great. And to my dear friends, at my current institution: no, it's not you.



4 responses so far

  • Zuska says:

    Wow. I'm really sorry - that people have felt so hurt and threatened; it's terrible that academe creates so much anxiety and stress for its practitioners. I'm sorry you felt you had to take down posts. I hate to see any of your writing go away. One hopes it mollifies the ones who have felt stressed.

    You show much kindness and concern for others in doing this. It is always a hard call when writing from personal experience, how much to share, and how to protect people whose experiences may make their way into your writing.

    • potnia theron says:

      thanks. I have no idea about mollification (is that a word?). But like so many other things, its about getting up with myself in morning.

  • ProdigalSpouse is always warning me about this. It is human nature to make things about oneself. Sorry this happened to you. I really enjoy your blog, and hope you won't find this too inhibiting in the future.

    • potnia theron says:

      Thanks. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said (though damned if I can find the quote now, maybe I misremember): the worst censorship is the internal ones that keep you from saying what you want.

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