To continue my previous discussions of the possibilities of a Scholarly Pinterest, I will share a brief anxiety that I experienced when first deciding how to approach my project. I had been a Pinterest user for a couple of years before I began the class which inspired this project. So I had an active account from which to build my argument about the potentials of a Scholarly Pinterest.
However, I also had… some other things.
Instead of using Pinterest primarily for collecting pins about cooking, crafting, and fashion (which I pin on occasion), I mostly use it as both a repository for and an expression of various fandoms. I have boards for Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Firefly, Comics, Wonder Woman in particular, cosplay, and Hunger Games, among others. Though I can’t actually share any statistics regarding what percentage of my pins are fandom-related, I am pretty confident that most of my time on Pinterest is spent “fangirling.”
This identity contrasts pretty heavily with the traditional image of a “professional scholar,” or, really, with any sort of professional identity. If I want to craft an online identity that aligns with that “traditionally professional” image, I should probably create a new account just to host the Pinterest project. I should avoid “fangirling” in the same space in which I conduct scholarly work.
But that’s not what I do IRL. My friends, colleagues, and professors in my home department (and those I know from previous departments) know what a huge geek I am. I use texts about roller derby in my composition and technical writing classes because of my experience as a roller derby official with the North Star Roller Girls. In other words, my professional and personal lives collide all the time in real life.
And it happens the other way around as well. I began officiating roller derby because a colleague in my department recruited me to the league. Once I was there, I became interested in how officials use a combination of gesture and text to communicate with each other and essentially enable gameplay. I have written papers and projects for multiple classes about comics and comics culture. I bring interests from my personal life to my professional life; or, put another way, the lenses of critique I have gained from my professional life do not simply go away once I leave campus.
Some scholars have already established online identities that blend elements of their professional and personal lives. See Lawrence Lessig’s blog website and Clay Spinuzzi’s Twitter feed for examples. So one part of me is satisfied that allowing the personal and professional to coexist in the same space will not necessarily hinder my career.
Another part of me, however, recognizes that both Lessig and Spinnuzi are already well-established scholars, whereas I haven’t yet stepped foot on the job market. I also recognize that their personal brands of “personality” online are a far cry from my “fangirling out.” I also use the term “fangirl” with a particular intention to mark the concerns I have as at least partly gendered. The ad below expresses some of these concerns rather nicely.
And yet, I wouldn’t go so far as to label these concerns as “fears.” Rather, I am ambivalent about how I should act in creating an online identity, but I am certain in how I do create my online identity. That’s not to say that I’m not conscious of my audience when I compose online (across all of my social media–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest). Instead, I choose to blend those identities online because it better reflects my desire to begin breaking down academic silos and making my work accessible to scholars and non-scholars alike. Academics cannot help to shape the world unless they are a part of it. So I am not too worried when my worlds collide.