Retrenchment, Day 44

It's day 44, so there's a long way to go until my faculty job is over. There's a department meeting at noon today. I wonder whether anything that's discussed will seem relevant or interesting to me. It's a bit strange how we sort of convince ourselves that we're engaged in discussions or with topics that really don't excite us, because it's part of the job. To some extent, I guess I approach this issue in a way that might be considered economic, but that I think of as more social. I'm pretty sure it's important to listen to what other people are saying and try to do something that enhances the well-being of the community I'm in, rather than only following my own "passion". This is not quite the same as "try to find a niche where people are happy to pay you for something", but how it's different might be important.

I see a lot of people on YouTube and Substack who I think are pursuing their actual interests and finding audiences. That gives me encouragement and hope that I can do the same thing. Then I see others who began doing one thing and then gradually morphed into something a bit more...clickbaity. Like, starting by trying to connect what's happening each day with historical precedents, so that people could understand how what's happening today isn't entirely unique. But gradually this became a talking points memo regurgitating current events from a partisan perspective. Maybe the pressure of posting daily was too much? Maybe the economic lure of building a huge following by feeding people's confirmation biases was overwhelming? I don't know the answer, but that worries me a bit because I want to avoid being channeled into doing something only because I think it will get a lot of clicks.
'd like to think that being in a classroom is a bit of an antidote to being able to drift too far afield. There are things I
have to cover in US History I, for instance, whether they excite me or not. I haven't quite worked out what I'll do if I find an audience online, or what I'll do to find an audience. I suspect I'll probably lean into the "I bet you didn't know this about your history" space. Uncovering forgotten people and exploring ignored perspectives fascinates me, and I think it leads to stories that can be novel and compelling, and also can expand our view of the complexity and nuance of the world. Those seem to be the elements that are missing in our discourse nowadays, and I'd be more interested trying to talk about them than trying to support one "side" in a culture war that seems designed primarily to distract us from real problems we should be coming together to solve.

So I think I'm going to try to focus on these issues. I suspect that will include talking about ways of researching, making notes, organizing thoughts, and writing. I think there are some people who have been following me for a while who might be happy if I focused a bit more regularly on these types of ideas. I think there's a connection between note-making and Open Education that I may be better positioned to explore than some others who focus on one or the other. And then I think I may be able to use some of my history skills to expand that discussion of complexity and explore less well represented perspectives. This will almost definitely include continuing to focus on primary sources and it will probably also include engaging with the history other folks are doing online; joining discussions and commenting on things others are putting out there. And also producing my own.

Link to YouTube: