Friday, June 09, 2006

Get the T-Shirt

Somebody sent me an email in reply to one of my blog posts. I wondered why they didn’t just comment as per blog custom, but since they identified themselves in their message as the author of something I’d read, I assumed their opening line, ‘Hi, enjoyed your post’, was a genuine overture to conversation on a topic in which we both had a vested interest. I understand modesty if you’re not at ease with the kind of exposure you get in the blogosphere. I understand wanting to remain anonymous to avoid any consequences or just plain embarrassment if someone makes the connection between your online pseudonym and your embodied existence. I thanked the sender for taking the time to respond and let them know that I had read their work as they’d suspected from the details of my post.

I revealed to the sender that we had met in the ‘real’ world and had acquaintances in common. I said I looked forward to engaging with the thesis chapter they had sent me, and that perhaps rather than continue the conversation via email, it would be easier to talk after an event we were both going to attend, or if that was too intense for a drinks occasion, then we might meet at a nearby coffee shop during a lunch break one day.

Then I attended the event where I saw the respondent. Since they didn’t know me, I waved and said, ‘Hi, I’m the person you emailed’. It turns out the sender knew who I was when they emailed me. I was surprised. Oh. Why didn’t the sender say so in the email? The sender avoided eye contact, didn’t even really want to acknowledge me, said ‘yeah I haven’t replied to your email’, and ‘I was being political’. Huh? The event got underway, and I was distracted by thinking about such a strange statement. Political? About what?

I thought about the content of the email I received. The sender had offered a different perspective on something I’d reported. At the time I’d thought the alternative account was very interesting. I had wanted to ask if I might post sections of the email to the comments page. Now I began to doubt the motivations behind the email. I thought about the sixty-five page chapter I had downloaded with every intention of reading, not really sure if I was up to the task of commenting, but honoured to be asked. I wondered, could a personal email to a less advanced colleague—an email that essentially negated the reported facts of the post and asserted the sender’s higher status/greater knowledge—be political in any affirmative way? If the politics expressed were directed solely towards the reported content of the post, then wouldn’t it make more sense to make the response public?

At the drinks after the event, the sender sat at the other end of the table with someone who doesn’t acknowledge me on any occasion. I felt humiliated and stupid that I’d thought the sender’s email was sincere rather than disingenuous and the assertion of authority that it now appears it was. I’m not sure what it was. I still don’t understand entirely . The sender hasn't offered me anything more.


Lucy Tartan said...

I really hope you're not losing sleep over this.

Galaxy said...

I suppose because I'm not aware of any other postgrads in my school doing a thesis on television, specifically, I was quite excited at the thought of having a discussion with another neophyte television scholar--who after all isn't that much more advanced than me. To think that someone would go to such an effort just to make sure that I know they know more than me, genuinely confuses me. I want to quote Kamahl: 'Why are people so unkind?' : P

But I've just spent the day with my sister, who is one of the best people I know and that had the effect of rebalancing me. So I will put this incident behind me and know that the actions of the person in question are absolutely no reflection on me as a individual or indeed the value and quality of my scholarly work.

Plus I'm still reading Don Quixote, so that should help me sleep ; )

Lucy Tartan said...


dogpossum said...

Don't you dare feel stupid for assuming good will in another's email!

I think I would probably have done as you did - the excitement of having someone to talk to about nerdynerdstuff! I say continue. Use Aggressive Friendliness. Perhaps they'll come around. Or just set it aside and don't think about it. But certainly don't worry about it.
I've seen you in action - you're one of those Big Brain types I admire. One of those people who makes me wish I swore less and didn't dress like a playschool presenter when I'm at conferences. I'm excited about your research, and I know it will be kicking arse. This person no doubt felt a bit threatened and needed to reassert themselves. As you've suggested.
So keep on rocking on. Dood.

Galaxy said...

It's moments like these when I really miss you, dogpossum. It's quite funny that you mention aggressive friendliness because I kept thinking 'dogpossum wouldn't stand for this, she would use aggressive friendliness, and they would end up loving her'. Not that I'm concerned about them not/loving me.

I love the way you dress like a playschool presenter, and you know, GT swears like a trooper and he's gone a long way.

MC said...

Just wanted to say that given that it was clear to me who the person in this post is, I thought it was the right thing to do to make them aware of your feelings because there is no way they would have intended their actions to be interpreted in this way. I also feel bad because I was the one who directed the person to your original blog post because it was of such evident interest to their own research. Knowing both of you quite well, I feel certain that whatever may have happened on Friday was a very big misunderstanding. You have so much to talk about with your overlapping research interests, it would be a shame to let this affect a potentially very fruitful connection.

Galaxy said...

Please don't feel bad. I know you would have meant no harm at all. We're having coffee tomorrow, because as you say it will be a fruitful connection. There will be lots of nerdynerd talk, I'm sure.

MC said...

Yay! That's good to hear. We nerds have to stick together!!

Zoe said...

Perhaps it was your aggressively friendly post?

Glad it's all turning out well.

Galaxy said...

Coffee was had by all. I ate a pear and dark chocolate muffin. We are united in resurrecting the reputation of CrashBurn.

dogpossum said...

Sometimes AF backfires. Once I'd been out at a lindy gig, where I'd had some mild interaction with a rock n roll dood (those guys are solid vintage wear - 100% historical accuracy re hair, clothes, shoes, makeup, gender roles.... always interesting when those 1950s doods run into us 1930s/40s doods when we're all _all_ dolled up vintage style. There's gonna be a rumble...)... anyhoo, so we interacted. The next night, I'm out at a supermarket and I see the same dood. He's still 100% vintage. I'm in moving-house clothes. I run up, all puppy like and say "Hi!" all bright and chipper like.
Man did I get a snubbing. Guess AF can't work for you if you're not cool enough, huh? Maybe I was perpetrating a severe fashion trauma? Or maybe it's just there are some forces in the 'verse that can stop AF.

So that dood probably wouldn't love me. I'd probably have snapped something sharp without thinking, in front of a crowd, and then been ritually snubbed by every noob-acka in the universitas for 'being mean', when really I'd just let those words fire out of me willy-nilly, with no self-editing.

I think of you when I'm in food stores, Galaxy - every time I hit an interesting local grocer. Or when I desperately want to talk Theory or have a conversation that actually requires some sort of Reading List under your belt. Or when I'm teaching. Or when I want to play SCRABBLE. Or drink tea til my bladder screams. Or when I want to pop off to the Nova for a last-minute trip to the flicks to see something difficult and interesting (since Giant J left, I have no artyfilm buddy... :( ).

Goddamnit, let's just get married and cohabit in Canberra, huh?

....god, why can't I understand that I have my OWN blog for these sorts of rambling bullshit comments? Just imagine that I've come over to your house for a chat. Or we're at your local cafe. Next week we'll go to mine. And everyone's welcome!

Galaxy said...

Hmmm, it's a steely type who can resist the onslaught of AF, especially when she's wearing purple flares : )


Alright, everyone, next week it's tea and Scrabble at Dogpossum's.

When I went to see Drawing Restraint 9 (by myself) I overheard someone say that they hadn't invited anyone along because they didn't want to be responsible for giving someone else a 'bad' film experience. I knew how they felt.

I think Dr H would have come along but she was in Sydney at the ballet. I go and see action films with her, like X-Men, and anything with Johnny Depp in it. With my sister, I go and see romantic comedies like, The Break-Up. She learned of my X-Men outing and was worried that I would actually go and see The Fast and the Furious. I reassured her that I'm not really into cars.

dogpossum said...

I saw Stick It today with a dance buddy. It was awesome. An audience full of teenage girls, and two dance nerds going freaking NUTS for the AWESOME athleticism on screen. Oh MAN that was some hot cinema action. If you liked Bring It. you'll love Stick It.