Let's Get Petty

Three things today:

1. My homie V sent me a link to this handy thing to see how much state employees make. This allows those of us who study and work at a UC school to find out exactly how much the profs and faculty make. My fellow Californians: indulge.

2. I had a negative experience the other evening after a certain lecture. I asked a question and got a bizarre, mean-spirited response. This made me think about that awful pettiness that lurks in the souls of academics, the house of cards built up over a lifetime of study consisting of equal parts of erudition and jealousy and, above all, the vulnerability almost every academic seems to feel about his or her little intellectual fiefdom. It reminds me of the famous thing Kissinger (supposedly) said: "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

3. I don't have to deal with it as much as a some people do, but I hate anonymous snipey comments on the internet. It's so cowardly, so mean-spirited, so small of someone to be insulting without having to deal with the consequences. I come from the school of "being afraid someone is going to beat you up for being a jerk," and I often wish computers had spring-loaded punching things for firing back at cowardly internet commentators. Thusly: on the rare occasions this shit happens to me, I'm just going to delete it. I'm going to delete it all to hell.


Austin Rich said...

A couple of thoughts:

Academia is a difficult mistress to fool around with. I think that just about everyone understands, on a personal level, how difficult it is to learn something (and how much harder it is to retain that something). This puts us (in the royal "us" sense) in an extremely uncomfortable position when other people question or challenge our education.

Potentially, you have two reactions at your disposal when this happens: Try to turn that scenario into a dual educational moment (where you both learn something together), OR reverse your feelings of discomfort entirely and project them onto those around you.

Humorously, academia is a haven for the weird, uncomfortable, awkward and bookish people in our culture, so it tends to attract exactly the kinds of people who acutely suffer from this kind of behavior prevalent on campuses. "I spend all day studying and reading something no one else seems to care about, so I'm going to get really defensive when you try to understand it at the level I do."

What was that about the march of progress?

Second: It's funny how anonymity has become EASIER as technology has advanced. I guess in the old days, you could mail a letter to someone and achieve the same effect. Still, it seems to me, what with the Inter-Web available on computers now, that the impulse to anonymously insult someone has developed at the same rate that Web Browsers have.

I'd really like to start some sort of 12-Step Program (minus the God-type double-speak) for people who feel the need to critique the world around them anonymously. The pseudonyms people would use at these meetings - let alone what they would have to say to each other - would be priceless.

And now, dinner time.

kungfuramone said...

Stop! Dinner time! Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh...

Austin Rich said...

(taps side of nose)