I have this person in my life – I hesitate to call him a friend…more like a self-designated, long-distance mentor. He likes to challenge me when he thinks I’m getting solipsistic. That time I temporarily included “Dr.” in my Twitter name. That time I played around with what self-promotion might look like in the middle of my own Twitter thread. That time I wrote a blog post announcing that I was going to blog everyday and then promoted the blog post on Twitter. “Why,” he asks (and I’m paraphrasing), “do you do that sort of thing when I know you to be a good, cool, and worthy person?”
Most of the time I think he’s full of shit, gazing at me through white man lenses. I have to admit, though, I kind of like it.
I have a friend who writes in public as a Hail Mary for intimacy. Another says it holds him accountable, like throwing down a very real and painfully effective gauntlet. It’s true that sometimes I hit the publish button because I think what I have written could be useful to others. There’s a lot of earnest academic practice in my blogging. Other times, I hit publish because I like the performativity. I like thinking about my words and actions through the eyes of others. I like the strangeness, the unpredictability, the almost-but-not-really risk. It keeps me on edge and balances me, all at the same time.
There is something to be said for questioning why we write in public. It’s not all rainbows and ponies, tassels and mortarboards all the time.
I’m okay with it.
Featured Image: Daniil Kuzelev, unsplash.com