Day: April 17, 2023

State of the Blog

Over the past couple of months, I met with two bloggy friends and the topic of the blog came up. I suppose it’s clear that xykademiqz wasn’t what it used to be, and here are some of the reasons.

I am not what I used to be. I’ve been blogging since 2010, when I received tenure. I’ve been tenured for years now, getting close to 20 years of teaching. Many (most?) of the issues that have always bothered me still do, only not as acutely. Why not? I’m older, and honestly I don’t care as much anymore. I’ve found ways to get out of doing a lot of the stuff I don’t want to be doing, and I don’t feel as guilty about that as I would’ve when I first started out. So all the irksome aspects of academia are not personally as irksome anymore, not because academia has changed, but because I and my attitude toward it have.

Covid did something to us collectively, and I don’t just mean that it killed or devastated many people (which obviously it did). It did put into perspective, even for people who were more-or-less physically unharmed, how their energy and passions were exploited in the workplace, only for the workplaces to not show up for their employees when it mattered. It’s not a surprise that  people got disengaged from their jobs during the pandemic. Perhaps I am one of them. To me, the pressure of having kids at home, masked teaching in person, managing the demands of research students (several of whom ended up with mental-health issues drastically exacerbated by the pandemic that I was expected to handle to a degree no advisor should, but that, owing to the abysmal mental healthcare on campus, no one else was apparently available to offer any actual support for), and plummeting grant availability created a potent cocktail called a Rapid Depletion of Fucks to Give.

I still do my job, and do it well. That’s the benefit of experience — you don’t have to burn with passion in order to perform at work. I love teaching and advising, and research can be fun, but I most definitely no longer look to the professional community as the body that is supposed to legitimize my existence or assign worth to my efforts.

I read papers and go to conferences, and I get overwhelmingly bored. I see what it is that “civilians” (nonacademics) mean when they say that science is hard and boring. I see it now; I didn’t before, but I do now. It’s so boring, so often. So much of the work is incremental and uninspired.

Granted, all this might just be my age. Seems like I’ve been battling midlife crisis through most of this blog’s existence. Maybe I was born middle-aged?

There’s more to life and the world than academia. And none of us will live forever.

In any case, I also have other endeavors that I find exciting and worthy of my energy. I’m not satisfied with the challenges in the technical sphere any longer, in part because the work done depends on other people (students, postdocs). I want to challenge myself, personally, and to rise and fall on my own merit.

Finally, the blogosphere isn’t what it used to be, that’s for sure. Very few voices that were around back when I started are still around. When I do blog, it often feels like it’s into a void. The fun of other bloggers stopping by and commenting has definitely diminished because so few comment anymore. I suppose that’s natural, but still a little sad.

So, what happens with xykademiqz? I don’t plan on closing it, but it will probably be updated about as much as it is now, which means weeks or months between posts. I still have plans to compile a “best of since 2016” collection (and there were some excellent posts in this interval) into Academaze II (with a cooler name), but I’m not sure when. The original plan was last summer, now this summer, but it might not happen, mostly because I’ve got other stuff (*cough* novel(s) *cough*) that I’m more enthusiastic about spending my limited time on right now, given I still have both kids at home and a demanding job.

Overall, I’m still here, and I will remain here, but very low key. If you have questions you’d like me to address on the blog, drop them in the comments or email them, and I will try to get to them, although chances are I’ve already blogged about the topics of interest, probably more than once.

How’ve you been doing lately, bloggy readers? 

And, to wrap up, a bit of levity.