One of the aspects of cultivating – and promoting – an online identity that interests me most is how the growing need for a “digital persona” for faculty, intersects with an increasingly neoliberal agenda for the university writ large.
My social media presence includes two Facebook accounts, Twitter, and Instagram. Except for Twitter – which I hardly use – I made my first forays into social media for one primary reason: to stay in touch with family and friends who were geographically distanced from me, especially as my son was growing up. While my primary FB account now also includes many professional colleagues (some of whom I consider “friends” also IRL) the purpose/nature of my postings are overwhelmingly personal or political, not professional. Professionally, I do find that being on social media helps me to stay abreast of trends in the field, but I don’t use social media in a particularly strategic way, in terms of professional advancement.
So I think my online presence is OK. I think though it’s fair to see the “need” (Laura Pasquini) for a digital, professional persona as part of ever-expanding expectations for faculty in the neoliberal university. It’s no longer good enough for faculty to develop their teaching, and succeed in publishing the results of their research, and make meaningful service contributions to the university. Now the onus also is on them to promote themselves through curating a digital persona on social media and other platforms. This branding or entrepreneurial approach to academic work in some ways doesn’t look much different — process-wise — than, oh say, a celebrity launching and marketing her own new clothing brand, or a professional hanging out their shingle. Such a “need” may humble academic work in important ways, but it also in my view is part of the corporatizing of the academy, and contributes to the neoliberal university’s unceasingly accelerated work.