The Graduate Student Twitterverse, Part 3
There are many ways academics can use social media to their advantage, as we've noted before. In Part 1 of the Graduate Student Twitterverse, we introduced you to the LSE Impact Blog, its guide for Using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities, and its follow up resource, Your favourite academic tweeters: lists available to browse by subject area.
In part two of our Graduate Student Twitterverse series, we showed you how you can follow and engage in conversation in the academic Twittersphere (and included some handy hashtags, too!).
Those are all meaningful ways to participate in social media in a way that will benefit you. But in reading University Affairs’ interview with the McGill professor behind the smash Twitter account Shit Academics Say, it occurred to us that there are many advantages to being an academic or a grad student on social media which aren’t directly related to your research or career.
Just listen to what Nathan Hall had to say - he’s the guy who founded Shit Academics Say in 2013. He’s also an associate professor in the department of education and counselling psychology at McGill. “What I realized is that people online, on Twitter and other social media, were engaged in sharing things more widely, talking more candidly about issues. I felt like I was missing out,” he shared about the conversations he saw taking place online.
But what was being discussed wasn’t limited to professional issues, according to Dr. Hall. Instead, “people were talking about the human issues related to the profession.”
Dr. Hall now conducting research about the social media experiment. He thinks there are reasons why professors in particular seek refuge online (although we certainly see many of them as applicable to graduate students, too): “I felt part of the reason faculty go online is because of the isolation,” he says. “You encounter a lot of things you can’t explain to other people, the feelings of failure where you work for months and write tens of thousands of words to win a grant and then you get absolutely nothing – it’s all or nothing. It’s a different feeling of failure than a student getting below a cut-off on a test.”
If anything, social media can become a way for those in the world of academia to overcome that sense of isolation, to commiserate about their #gradlife problems - or, on a more positive note, connect on a human level with other people sharing the journey they have undertaken. If that’s something you’re interested in, The Thesis Whisperer keeps a running list of Phd student bloggers here. It's a list meant to showcase how blogging can be integrated with scholarship, but it's a good place to start if you want to see what other students are doing and, more often than not, how they're feeling as they're doing it.