The Benefits of Grumpiness

If you ever read any of those blogging guides that are trotted out regularly, you’ll know that one of the biggest kisses of death for a blog seeking to become popular and ‘mainstream’ (whatever the hell that is), is not to air negativity, sadness, rage, or grumpiness. I say, fuck that. I’m not unique in saying that, or the first one to say it. I would really hate this post to be interpreted as some pretentious ‘I’m so different and unique’ article, because I know I’m not. But my lack of uniqueness doesn’t cancel out my critique.

Here’s the thing: I think we should get grumpy more often on blogs. I think we should air negativity, and rage, and fear, and uncertainty, rather than projecting a banal and static idea of what these online spaces are for. I’ve said this before on my blog, and yes, I’m repeating myself. The need to say it over and over again comes from the fact that I often feel like I’ve hit a brick wall with the blogging community and with wider blogging culture, which is really just a reflection of culture in general. So every time I encounter that brick wall, I feel the need to write about it here. Perhaps this is pointless, and maybe it doesn’t do me any favours. But, in case you haven’t noticed, most of the things I write about on this blog aren’t savvy self-marketing. Rather, what I hope comes through, is a three-dimensional human being. So here is a dose of much-needed grumpiness, because so many things should be given the finger lately.

Every time I get invited to blogging ‘masterclasses’ and conferences I get depressed. As well-meaning as most of these invitations are, I know the majority of the ‘tips’ offered to aspiring bloggers by now: don’t write long posts, sell yourself constantly, be like everyone else, writing is boring and people have short attention spans so use pretty pictures instead, don’t be confrontational/negative/complex/human/sad/intelligent, speak to your readers in a simplistic way and don’t use ‘big’ words, a picture in every post is a must!!! No, just no. I don’t doubt that there may be helpful classes about blogging out there, but I also know that the dominant guidelines offered tend to be conformist and conservative in nature; they also streamline blogs into a recognisable formula or template (like women’s magazines), and that just pisses me off. So you know, I don’t feel flattered or special when someone cheerfully offers to turn me into a formula, and erase what makes me me, as if they are being helpful.

Another thing that’s been pissing me off can be summed up by this article. I heard the other day someone complaining on the bus to my university that they were tired of hearing academics in the humanities complain about how hard the situation is for humanities departments and staff. Well, we’ll stop complaining when we aren’t treated like shit, is that a deal? I’m pissed off that I recognise my situation and that of many of my friends all too well in this post; I’m pissed off about reading article after article ‘defending’ the humanities when we shouldn’t have to justify its existence in universities; I’m pissed off at the virulent anti-intellectual culture in Australia that actually believes education is irrelevant and ‘elitist’ when most academics I know earn shit all and do what they do for the love of learning and teaching; I’m pissed off that when I mention I have a PhD in English in a job interview FOR A WRITING JOB it’s viewed as a hindrance rather than an asset FOR WRITING; I’m pissed off that I’m made to feel ashamed of my PhD and my years of hard work and study on a daily basis; I’m pissed off that we don’t actually know how lucky we are in Australia, how good our economy is, how prosperous our country is and how much more generous we should be; I’m pissed off that we don’t realise that degrading and hating education is a kiss of death for a country and one day we’ll look back and realise we fucked up royally when we cannot compete with other countries; and I’m pissed off that no one seems to care about this other than academics who are yes, complaining, because there is nothing else to do. Let me make this clear in case the good old ‘ivory tower’ analogy is used in one more sneering article about academics and the humanities: there is no fucking tower, we’re currently in the dungeon, and we’ve been there for years.

I’ve just committed a million blogging sins, feel free to judge me at the blogging altar of popularity. Or, here are some bunnies.