I created a Twitter account a looooooong time ago, using my real name, and as the vast majority of people, I couldn’t get into it at first. A couple of years later I decided to give it another try. As a postdoc, I started following scientists and enjoying what I was reading. But although I was comfortable reading, I was not comfortable at all expressing my thoughts. Internet never forgets, and I’d think about everything and everyone before hitting that tweet button! What when I’m in the job market and someone from the committee reads my tweets?
That’s when I created my pseudo account. That was so much better and easier. I could really “be myself” and those of you that know me IRL can confirm how, in a way, I’m mostly myself when I tweet. However, everybody has several personas*. When I started to be active on Twitter, I embraced the postdoc persona: underpaid, hoping for a TT position, bitching about experiments and my academic world. And that’s when I’ve gotten most of my followers (I guess? I don’t really track this). Of course, every now and then I used to tweet about something different, but my Twitter persona used to be a very sciency and academic one.
Now things have changed. I’m no longer a postdoc. I’m not applying for academic positions anymore. Although I still deal with professors and research, I’m not the one doing it. But still, most of my Twitter followers are academic science fellows. So I came back to think a lot about what to post on Twitter. I read about failed experiments, grants submitted, stupid reviewers… and I have nothing to say abound this subject anymore! I feel like most of things I want to talk about are boring and no one wants to read them. That’s the main reason I’ve slowed down my Twitter usage during this past 6 months or so. I feel like I don’t belong there anymore. I’m in a mostly academic community and I’m afraid I have nothing to contribute to it…
But I do love Twitter (and my peeps!) too much to quit. Leaving academia for me was not an option. I am very happy about it now, but at the time, it was very painful. I’ve thought about creating a new pseudo account and starting fresh. A brand new non-academic account. But that would be too painful as well. I guess what I’ll try to do is to embrace my new “non-academic” persona on Twitter. I know I’ll lose a couple of followers, but at least I’ll keep being myself.
*Jung describes the persona like this:
The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society . . . a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual (Jung 1953, p. 192).