I’ve been busy the past few months consolidating all of my writing onto my blog. It’s been a humongous undertaking, but the task was designed to help me save my work in future. My blog has proven to be the most reliable way to preserve my content. The consolidation project began because, late last year, Google+ announced it was shutting down in April 2019. Long-time readers would know that, outside of this research blog, much of my public scholarship emerged from Google+. From my involvement in a community run by multidisciplinary scientists, Science on Google+, to my co-management of STEM Women (a community and website supporting the careers of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), as well as my own sociology posts, much of my public sociology and outreach happened thanks to Google+.
Google+ held over 3,000 (!) of my public posts on my personal profile, let alone hundreds of private community and interpersonal messages. Importing my content to my blog was the easy part – editing has been a massive effort.
Google+ is much like other microblogging sites like Facebook or Twitter, where you can make original posts, or simply share things you find interesting. In the early days, I reshared a lot of content, which I now only privately consume. For example, I read and commented on a lot of news, but nowadays, I mostly publicly discuss specific issues tied to my professional life, rather than comment on everything that captivates my attention. It was a massive task to re-read every G+ post and decide their past and future value. It was also a kick to see how my sociological social media ‘voice’ has changed over the past few years. You can see a little of that on my blog; I rarely nowadays post just for fun, but I did this in the early days.
Having already faced the shut-down of Vine and Storify, I couldn’t go through the potential loss of my content all over again. After I finished importing not just my personal posts, but another three G+ pages I managed, I started to import, and curate, my Tumblr. This was yet another 3,000 public posts and a few hundred drafts to organise. Phew! The process was both fun and it also brought dejection along the way.
I have shared much of my intellectual property online under a Creative Commons license. It has brought me a lot of harassment and stress. Importing my content also brought a tidal wave of abuse attached to those posts; the unreasonable requests I receive for additional free service; the emotional labour demanded of me as a woman of colour; and the inequality reproduced by some of the people who consume my work. Academics, for example, rely on blogs like mine to pad out their courses, without much consideration for what it all costs to the wellbeing of minority women bloggers. My blog is public for all to use and enjoy, however, the people who reach out often make unreasonable and unethical demands for me to give them more of my time, and additional work without compensation.
I stopped enjoying publishing on my blog during these past six months. Instead, I did a lot of reflection about how to proceed in this work. From January to April, I only wrote and published one blog post specifically for The Other Sociologist. That was about my time in the Central Coast. That particular post took three months to write for a range of reasons, including the fact that I’ve been working on a large research project which I hope to share with you in the coming months. This year, I have published primarily on my Twitter, and then expanded those posts for my blog.
In truth, it’s been tough to find the energy and will to return to regular blogging. People expect a lot from women of colour bloggers: to be educated, to have their questions answered, to have their fragile world views reaffirmed. “Maybe this isn’t really racism?” “This article on sexism is sexist against men!” A simple thank you is rare. I don’t monetise my content. I don’t ask for anything except basic respect through my commenting policy, and even then the majority of emails I receive are from academics and publishers asking for me to work for free, or I wade through some bizarre media requests, and, of course, I field a heap of abuse, alongside dealing with people who defy my contact policy (I can’t help with homework, assignments or theses, yet many people think they should be the exception).
I ended up sorting through close to 10,000 posts published across my G+ and Tumblr. I’m struck by the thousands of hours that I’ve volunteered publishing content that has been read by millions of people. I know I’m not alone; this is the true labour of thousands of other scientists and community organisers all over the globe, who self-publish because they don’t see their needs met by traditional media.
In May, I surpassed my 10-year anniversary on Twitter. I started on social media initially to promote my volunteering on Sociology at Work, as a free service to applied sociologists and students. A decade later, I had to ask myself some tough questions. How much does blogging help me, how much does it wound me? Why should I keep going? Is it all worth it?
I have done quite a lot of work to remind myself why I blog and to weigh up the inevitable future blows. Yet, I remain grateful, because despite the lows, I have met many amazing researchers, activists and practitioners from all over the world through my blogging and social media. In particular, Google+ was a place where I found wonderful friends with whom I’m still regularly in contact.
I have started blogging more regularly in past weeks as I pushed through this turmoil. I blog for the same reasons I always have, for myself, for my sociological curiosity and duty to women of colour like myself.
And so it is that I’ve been busy trying to clean up my blog, with quite a lot of work still to go. I’ll try to boost a few of those posts, but, in the meantime, feel free to peruse all my Google+ materials.
Another big part of this transition is that most of my visual sociology from my Tumblr is now right here, on my blog! That’s around one decade’s worth of photography and videos which visually represent sociological themes as well as other frivolity that captures my sociological imagination. Much of this visual sociology is taken whilst travelling, at work or on weekends as I conduct research for my blog (a taste below).
Until we next speak: be kind, question what you and the world around us takes for granted, and hire and pay women of colour for their work and expertise.
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