I once dated a super-narcissistic dude. I don’t think it was genuine narcissism so much as a desire to play himself up to hide his shortcomings so that he would seem more marketable, or ‘worthwhile’ according to his own standards. After we parted ways, he would sometimes send me unsolicited e-mails critiquing a blog post, or the way I managed the comments on my blog. It was arrogant and ignorant, and I laughed at the entitled attitude of it. He once told me that he noticed I had started writing for blogs and websites. That’s neat and all, he said, but as an academic, he just goes ahead and publishes his thoughts and ideas in respected, peer-reviewed journals. I filtered his e-mail to the trash after that. I have no idea if he ever e-mailed me again, as I don’t check the trash.
But that e-mail, that sentiment, popped into my head today. I remember at the time looking up his latest article and seeing the page views. It was under 200. My last published piece on a ‘blog’ (Feminspire) has over 60,000.
I wonder then, why so much pride and condescension about only publishing in ‘respected, peer-reviewed journals?’. Then I realized that one of the major differences between me and him, or most academics and people writing on the web and not also in academia, is that we aren’t writing for ourselves and for a select, privileged, limited audience. We are writing to spread ideas in a genuine way, a way that will have relevance and affect change in real and meaningful ways by reaching a large number of people and sharing information in the quickest and most far-reaching manner we know how.
It’s kind of beautiful, really. The connections we make as we work together, aim for common goals, educate each other, share experiences, learn from each other and blend ideas. We are growing together. And as long as an idea or thought or new way of being or living is confined to academia, it only has meaning within academia. Outside of that, in the lives of the people being discussed or analyzed or critiqued within that academic arena, it has no value or meaning. The people most affected by whatever is being studied or talked about are subjects only and not players in the game, or agents of change.
When you’re writing for yourself, for esteem, to get approval, you keep the writing separate from the people who could most benefit from it. You don’t share it. There’s a different aim or goal there. It’s ridiculous ideological hierarchy. When you want to affect change, to have a discourse, to learn and to grow, you put the writing and ideas out where people can engage and spread the information.
Keep blogging. I learn so much from you all. You are awesome.