In a way, I am a born-digital scholar. I did not “cross-over” to the internet or public discourse. I have developed my academic and writing career within the internet. I have never considered my scholarship separate from the public sphere and that has worked out for me. Love it or hate it, my work is better because I argue online, hash out half-baked theories in public, and constantly consider the effect of my research questions on real people and real social problems. That is how I ended up a sociologist with a hundred thousand followers, a National Book Award finalist with a podcast, and an essayist that writes across almost every medium.
I have been writing for an “audience” for almost 15 years now. My first public audience was a discussion board for Def Poetry Jam. Seriously. I posted very bad spoken word poetry and judged the very bad spoken word poetry of others.
I missed MySpace because I had a job by then. I was just a skosh too old. I did not have a Facebook account for the first year or so it was an option because I went to the wrong kind of college. There was a real prestige hierarchy of .edu email addresses for a long while over there. I locked into LiveJournal because it was democratic and it was functionally a public diary.
The first time I joined Twitter, I could not figure it out. I lost my first, best username (“Tressie”) because I never logged back in. A year or two later, I rejoined as @tressiemcphd because my Blogger account introduced auto-posting. I eventually migrated that blog to wordpress and the whole eco-system came together: @tressiemcphd was a blog, a Twitter account and a person.
Over the years, I have ventured into other formats to try to capture the energy of real-time discourse while also minimizing the risks (e.g. flaming racist emails to my work). A failed newsletter and dozens of listservs later, I reached a very uncomfortable truth: you cannot have one without the unfortunate other.
Writers write. Haters hate. We just have to keep on keeping on.
I’m keeping on with Medium! I will be continuing my practice of hashing out half-baked ideas in public because that is part of my process. If you drop in and check this space out regularly, you will find a community of readers and a writer working through big ideas for a new book and a couple of new projects. For a taste of what I’m up to, check out my thoughts on Karens, and white identity anxiety in social isolation, and oldies but goodies on status, class, higher education, digital culture, and “the discourse”.
And, because I am a real estate hobbyist, racism professional and Hallmark movie savant there will be a bit of all of that.
I start dropping weekly bits and bites in October because that’s libra season.
If you are here, you are a real glutton for punishment. I like that in a reader.
Be sure to click “follow” and all that jazz.