As I grow into this great big world of academia I'm learning a few key things. 1. Everything is political and 2. Everything - is political. (And 3. If you don't know what something is instead of admitting that - just Google that sh*t - yo).
So I recently got signed up for a new ListServ. What is a ListServ you ask. Watch as I Google it. listserv Noun/ˈlis(t)ˌsərv/1. An electronic mailing list of people who wish to receive specified information from the Internet.
Simple right? You have a group. You want that group to be able to email each other. You create a list. You put everybody on that list onto a little "serv" and then you give them all the ultimate power over the universe (or the ultimate power to email everybody on that list).
This becomes a thing of excitement at first (I can't believe I made it on the list! Yay me!)
And quickly becomes a thing of hilarity. (I'm happy to be on this listserv, but not as happy as the guy who replies to the ENTIRE listserv just to tell people how happy he is to be on the listserv).
Moving on to a thing of ridiculousness (Let's all send an email and see how we feel about a subject that is currently popular to read about on Huffington Post and then let's plug our blog about it).
And finally settles into a thing of annoyance (and now come the emails from people demanding to be removed from the listserv sent to the entire listserv).
It quickly moves back into hilarity again (let's send a reply email about how rude we think it is that a bunch of people want to be removed from the listserv. OOOO and then let's be the guy who replies back that he agrees with EVERYONE. OOOO better yet let's be the person who thinks that it's mostly "science" people who want to be removed from the listserv - those damn science people always trying to be efficient and move away from actual socialization and getting to know each other.)
And (at least for me) it ends back at excitement (I am an academic on a listserv reading all of these academic conversations about the politics of being on a listserv! And I have nothing to say about this new movie that everyone is debating about... because I haven't seen it yet... because I'm a graduate student and I have no money over the summer and because if I did want to spend the money to get a sitter, and go to the movies and buy myself some popcorn I'd probably go see Cowboys & Aliens. But don't get me started on the colonization commentary I could do with that one! OOOO I'm an academic again!)
There is actually - apparently - etiquette for a listserv. Which (funnily enough) was sent out when we were signed up for the list serv. With such solid advice such as: Personal replies should be directed to specific individuals rather than to the entire list. (which would have helped all the people who wrote back "wow, thanks for adding me to the list serv person who did that. You are a great person. I look forward to talking to you.") I also quite like: Don't send meaningless messages with no content, such as "I agree!"or even: Avoid flaming individuals on the listserv. If you have a conflict with an individual, settle it by private e-mail messages. (Or on a Blog...)
And at first when I read some of the etiquette rules I had a good belly laugh out of those, until I soon started to realize that they were real. REAL (number 4 on the list is to not type in all caps - as it makes people think you are yelling at them. FOR REALS!) Because everyone of those listserv etiquette rules have since been broken - and it's been six days. (SIX DAYS!)
But I kind of get it. Because we're all lonely academics sitting in our office researching and just wondering if there is a world out there just waiting to talk to us about all of our cool observations about life. Because now we are on a listserv- and that listserv is filled with real people, who have done real amazing things and we just want to make a connection. Isn't that what's it all about? A connection? Isn't that why we make web pages and write blogs and Twitter (I Twitter mostly so that I can reply to famous people and try to get them to talk to me - I'm looking at you NEIL PATRICK HARRIS). We're trying our best to withhold our thoughts on WHY, WHY they cast Anne Hathaway as a British person in a movie when she's clearly not all that British (and WHY WHY we are so excited to see her in a skin tight cat suit) and we want to do it with people who have clearly done this before.
And because it's political. We need to get our name out into the circle. We need to join the conversation and make an impression. Because we need to get a tenure track position one day gosh darn it. Because at the end of every message we can give a little plug to who we are. And because as we maneuver our way through this thing called the rest of our lives, we just want somebody to reach out and say - yes you are right - Anne Hathaway was clearly the wrong decision.
PS - the last rule on the list is as follows: Don't be critical of people's queries posted to the listserv. Many people are new to the listserv. Send them a private message and "gently" make suggestions if you think it is warranted. We're here to learn, share, and grow from each other.(It's the advice I leave you with random people who are getting all uncomfortable either for receiving too many messages or for demanding to be taken off the list... or for being all up in arms because people are demanding to be taken off the list, or for agreeing with everyone. That guy rubbed me the wrong way. "I just want to write back to say I agree with everyone on all sides. Yes it's slightly annoying to get a million email messages from people talking about stuff but yes it's also exciting to get a million messages from people talking about stuff. I also agree that those people who don't like it should be taken off the list but that it's rude to email everybody to get off the list. I also agree that we should raise taxes and lower taxes and cut NPR but keep NPR."
Okay, I may have added that last part.
WHAT SELF RESPECTING ACADEMIC WOULD EVER WANT TO CUT NPR?!
About This Blog:
This is the stuff I do to survive Graduate School.
It's also other stuff I do in life.
My life is mostly Graduate School.
Cutcha RIsling Baldy is a PhD Candidate in Native American Studies at UC Davis.