Follow My New blog: rogerkgreen.blog
November 25, 2016 § Leave a comment
I have a newer, less bulky domain name for my blog: rogerkgreen.blog I’ll be slowly moving over to it to streamline social media content. Posts will still show up in tweets and fb posts, but the engine will be from my blog , where I can fine tune what I have to say.
The reactionary nature of social media – an easy emoticon on the fly – is not enough for the analyses of self and culture that I want to take part in publicly.
Last year I intentionally used social media to try to challenge assumptions about the lives of university professors like myself. I made no distinctions between academic or theoretical posts, griping about a bad day at work, pictures of my dog, music I was inspired by, etc.
I particularly wanted to challenge the assumption that if you are a professor you are somehow automatically part of a liberal elite, that somehow you are politically defined by the job you work.
At the same time, the nature of my work leads me to public commentary, political analysis, etc. and yet when I see professors represented in media, it is almost always in relation to a very rich school (usually Ivy League). It’s often a quirky and socially challenged yet genius, such as Walter Bishop in Fringe. Or it’s the Indiana Jones-like Alaric Saltzman from Vampire Diaries or evil geniuses in Buffy or The Island of Dr. Moreau. They almost always appear to have access to unlimited funding and nicely spacious offices with polished wooden furniture and leather chairs. Less often it is the poor neurotic played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Savages.
The image intellectual life is made cartoonish and easy to write off in the U.S. (I don’t know so much about elsewhere), which is at times mirrored in petty fights and fears about tenure and job security in a job that, especially for those of us in the humanities, is always political.
I know a good number of people outside the academy who use the institutional life of a professor as a buffer their own sense of intellect, to be “just as smart” without being “educated.” Anti-intellectualism can persist both within and without of institutions, and I applaud autodidacts; but I also see a communication breakdown reinforced by a public frame of what the life of a professor is.
This is of course fueled by by my own working-class background. A sense instilled in me by my parents that education somehow equaled class mobility. And as many people from working class backgrounds know well, when you achieve advanced degrees you are automatically deemed suspicious by your family, and what this amounts to is a conflicted state where they expect you to know and have read everything (especially if it relates to them) while at the same time discrediting you as too obscurely academic or “elitist” when you talk about what you study.
The familial situation is echoed culturally. One of the biggest voting divides in this year’s elections was between educated and non-educated “whites,” a divide that was apparent in rural white women along with men coming out in strong numbers to vote. Most people I know saw the election in terms of one or another identity characteristic, gender, ethnicity, etc., but less analytical efforts and accuracy go into our analyses of class in the United States, especially when when adopt the mistaken assumption that college-educated is automatically a ticket to middle or upper middle class.
There is what George Lakoff calls a “deep framing” mechanism at work in the U.S. around education and class that I believe prevents communication among all sorts of groups whose lives are negatively affected by political powers from both of the major political parties in the U.S. In terms of democracy, this is a divide and conquer tactic.
This year, in an effort to give attention to that divide, I’m turning my social media presence more toward formal posting and less ephemera. If you’re interested, please follow my new blog. I’m a pretty busy person, and I write for multiple sources online, but I’ll try to be more regular and more open with sharing what I learn as a reader, because that is by far what I spend most of my time doing, whether it’s student papers or books and articles. Thanks for reading.