The deep, dark secrets of academe. . .revealed!

BlogHer Original Post

Today I stumbled across academicsecret, a month-old blog that's a hybrid of PostSecret and any number of blogs by anonymous academics.

And it's damn funny. One of the rotating quotations at the top of the blog proclaims, "in addition to our other diplomas, we have ph.d's in snark." Summa cum laude, I might add.

I have a post in the works about the prevalence of women's anonymity in the academic blogosphere, a frequent topic of conversation at the BlogHer conference between academics and nonacademics. academicsecret is a prime example of how assiduously some academic bloggers protect their identities. The site's description explains:

Remember back in college when you would hear about secret societies? We didn't get invited either. But we persevered and now, laptops in tow, we live as stealthy moles inside the grove of academe. We come together as members of a society so secret even we don't know who we are. academicsecret is a confederacy of bloggers connected to the academic world in various ways. By design, participant identities are unknown to one another and the administrators.

By turns biting, depressing, and funny, academicsecret is one of those blogs from which I just couldn't bear to click away. Everybody loves a train wreck, right?

Take, for example, this post from Scarlet, who had earlier announced plans to fake her own death to avoid dealing with all her obligations:

A different problem with faking your own death is what to do afterward. You can't just sit around being not-really-dead day after day; you have to do something with your new life. Here, academics face the special problem where credentials do not transfer from a deceased identity to a new one. Almost makes me wish I had spent all that time in schooling acquiring expertise that could be demonstrated without the aid of a diploma. Still, I have been stockpiling anecdotes about academia--let me know if you have any tales, especially of wild malfeasance or ineptitude--and I've wondered if I might be able to turn them into a good mystery novel.

Of course, I wouldn't have to fake my own death if I could just tell people I wasn't interested in this-or-that anymore and that, with profuse apologies, I wasn't ever going to get around to doing this-or-that. But why disappoint when you can disappear?

Commenters are helpful at this site. For example, in response to the above post, thistle writes,

Have you thought about faking institutionalization for mental illness or incarceration instead of your death? You could get off of all kinds of committees and out of writing book chapters and whatever you're avoiding, while there's still the possibility that you could get out of the institution one day.
Wait - I've got it - take a trip to a country with poor human rights status, make up a story that you did something really heroic that got you arrested and that the authorities are holding you in jail. When nobody can confirm your incarceration, it could be the authorities covering it up. Then, when you reappear after 10 years (during which all your obligations presumably went away), you could say you lived in the bush with a band of guerilla freedom fighters. How much of a star would you be!!

Of course, as is hinted in the excerpt from Scarlet's post above, academicsecret is not all about humor. There are also deeper, darker issues raised on the site, such as this secret about the relationship of senior women to junior women in academia.

Go explore the site, and be sure to read the comments, as in many cases they're every bit as good as the original entries themselves.

Leslie Madsen-Brooks blogs at The Clutter Museum and Museum Blogging.

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