Don’t Just Click There, DO Something

There is a predictable uproar about the latest installment, in Forbes this time, of our national conversation entitled: Golly Aren’t Academics Living Lazy Leisurely Lives (GAALLLL, for short).

I don’t have much to say but I want to remind people that this is a fairly old debate. I really don’t think it changes much each time we have it.

It has taken on new dimensions with the world of the internet but provocative trolling for outrage in book form looks remarkably similar.

I think many fellow professors click on the list, read the article, and think along these lines:

I know I don’t have as stressful a job as a taxi driver (most likely to be victims of a crime) or of an active duty soldier. But there is no need to continue to spread these falsehoods about a summer off, or a stress-free nine-to-five existence. And the “adding plenty of new adjunct and tenure-track jobs” fiction is hilarious.

They then share their outrage on Facebook and twitter. They click on the Career-Cast links to the methodology. They play into the hands of the craven journalistic incentives that continue to give birth to these monstrosities. There is a business model that is fueled by outrage. It has some things in common with the one fueled by people clicking and sharing lists in which they are included.

So, here’s my New Year’s Resolution, which I know I have already failed (standing next to something and yelling “IGNORE THIS” at top of lungs, not that effective):

1) Ignore these lists. Don’t click them. Don’t share them. Be more wary of clicking on Forbes.

2) Ignore the professors-are-lazy meme when perpetuated by lazy journalists.

3) Be a hard working professor, and _show_ people that I work hard, don’t just tell them how hard I work. Spending one day in a school telling kids what you do, academics, will do more than a thousand RT’s or twenty blog posts. I am a big fan of blogging, but nothing beats boots on the ground, or tweed in the classroom, so to speak.

4) Keep AAUP on my radar, and promote them to my colleagues. Want to click something? Click this: Join AAUP  Want to advocate for your profession? That’s what professional organizations do. They lobby, they educate, they investigate. They could do more if more faculty joined. They have recently changed their fee structure to be more affordable. At my salary annual dues are about 100 bucks. This seems like a lot for membership in yet another professional organization. But I think of this as privilege taxes. I am a tenure-track faculty member who may not be actually standing on the physical shoulders of adjuncts, but I am part of a system which exploits their labor. I owe them at least a modicum of advocacy on their behalf. AAUP may not be perfect in this regard, but it is better than nothing.

I am open to other courses of action, so anything you are planning on doing? Please reply in the comments.