The New Awkward

Ah you see, this vulnerability-plus-authenticity-thing, it’s a new skill I learned recently. It’s only awkward if you make it so*.

I LOVE the vulnerability + authenticity thing! I'm for making anything that isn't this, the new awkward. WhatsApp. It’s like Twitter, but better curated.

Blogging lends itself to the meta.

Over the years, when I have been battered, bruised and even left bleeding from online exchanges, I think back to my abrupt and unintentional induction into science communication; to my first forays into blogging. I finger the battle scars I picked up during the Science Blogging Warz of the late 2000s, I switch off for a while, I step away from the internets, I rethink, I rephrase things. We all go to the pub, sometimes, and that helps a lot.

Kids: be loyal to your friends, and your internet strangers; stay connected to your networks even when they disconnect you; be disloyal to platforms, to frameworks, to media. Think carefully, before thinking absolutely. Be the person organising the watch party, the fringe event, the Tweetup. Don’t piss on each others’ carpets. Stop spitting bile at the universe from behind your safety glass screen. When the opportunity arises, make time to meet in up meatspace instead.

In 2013, almost invisibly, Blogging the PhD rolled into Blogging Beyond. Offline, I was enduring yet another interdisciplinary transition: from biostatistics student to industry statistician As this process unfolded, I no longer knew how to blog. I did feel the loss. Blogging about work seemed unwise. I tried and then tired of the diversity conversation. I posted photos. I cross-posted. For months at a stretch, I posted nothing at all.

Four years after that, and three or so since this, J called time on our marriage. It was not the first thing I asked him, but I did ask him, if he minded my blogging about it. My story is mine to tell, and his is his, and it is a pet hate of mine, having my story told for me. But from when J and I met in 2005 through to 2017 when our paths separated, our stories, from time to time, wrote each other.

There are so many what-ifs and wonderings: What if I had taken his name? Worn white at the wedding? Taken up the offer to do my PhD in Edinburgh? Explored the suggestion I move to Seattle?

dedicated my thesis to J, who, I remind him, will always have been my First Husband. I am not sure I would have made it to the start line of the PhD process, let alone the finish, without him. That said, looking back, I do question the wisdom of the caption of the photograph of us signing the register. I was trying to be funny.

C-x C-s , J
C-x C-c

The exchange at the top of this blog post comes from me (on the right) and Alicia Thackrar, with permission.

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