Thursday, December 25, 2008

Angry Archie from Allentown Dusts Off the Wiki Generation.

Archie, one of this year's convention correspondents, is off to a big convention in a frozen solid city somewhere. But on his way he's filed this wacky wiki post that we'd like to share with you. We think we're in love with him.

Raise your hand if you know about the Job Wiki. If you don’t, check it out: it is an unguided tour through the rocky shoals of upper-division snowflakiness. I discovered the thing because some of my grad-flakes mentioned it to me. Big mistake that was. Don't they know never to let their flake-flag fly in public?

Anyway, I’m on a search committee this year, so I went to see what the world of wiki-flakes was saying about our search. Afterwards I felt dirty and soiled, kind of like when you slow down to rubberneck at the scene of an accident and what you see is an 86 Camaro that rear-ended an 86 Mazda pickup, and two dudes with mulletts who just escaped from the trailer park and clearly have no insurance are duking it out because they both wanted to play real-life Grand Turismo 5 on the freeway at rush hour. So to spare you the pain, or perhaps to get you to go rubber-neck too, I am offering the following guide to the job wiki. Caveat Emptor: I looked at the wiki in my discipline, but it looks like there is one for every discipline. So just choose your particular poison and enjoy snowflakery at its finest.

The putative purpose of the wiki is to disseminate information that those evil search committees refuse to share with the precious and sensitive little applicants. People post when they get solicited for additional material, or when they are called for a conference interview or campus visit. Some people post really useless queries like “so who has heard what they are looking for?” as if any of the other grad-flakes on the wiki would know, and as if this information would actually be helpful given that the committee members won't really know until they actually dive into the giant pile of raw sewage otherwise known as the search files. Then other wiki-flakes respond with totally inaccurate information—at least in the case of the search I’m on—but they state it with such conviction that all the other wiki-flakes believe them.

Going back through the search files, I can now see exactly who the ten credulous knuckleheads who like to check the wiki are, because rather than respond to the ad we posted, they applied for the job the other shifty snowflake who was talking out his ass described. So here’s a hint to get you through the day fucknuts: when you write your letter, respond to the ad, not to what some shitneck who very probably wants you to fail posted on the wiki. Haven't you ever heard of sample size? We got just south of 200 applicants for our job, while there are probably fifty people engaging in a non-stop circle jerk on the wiki, only five of whom were applicants to our job. They can't know anything of any use and neither can you, so stop pretending you can. You are like conspiracy theory whackos who only talk to other likeminded idiots.

Job searches are not linear. That is to say, writing samples turn out to be insanely bad, conference interviewees wet their pants in the interview room in ways you never thought possible, and campus finalists turn out to be raving alcoholics who can’t hold it together for the entire q&a session without self-medicating in front of the whole room. You cannot conclude anything from the fact that we solicited circle-jerker number two for writing on November the 4th . You just can’t. And if you do, you are laboring under a serious misapprehension about how the whole process works. We might still call you, and we might be willing to take you seriously, but now you’ve done gone and fucked the dog, by convincing yourself that you are second or third string because you read it from one of the other onanistic conspiracy theorists on the wiki. Then you show up and act all sullen because you've decided we suck, when we were probably desperate to find even one candidate who is able to answer the simplest and most direct questions about his or her work without drooling on the floor, going off on idiotic tangents, or lapsing into a convulsive fit of uhms and aahs while stalling for time. See how that works? Everybody loses unless you just say no to the wiki-crack.

But to witness the real grad-flakiness in action, go to the discussion section of the wiki. This is where the little weasels go to cry about how they have sand in their panties and the search committees are all a bunch of big nasty unfeeling bullies. Among the things these little wiki-flakes would like are personalized rejection letters in which the committee explains the specific, individualized reasons for their rejection. I have never seen so many pussies sitting around complaining about not getting a rejection letter before.

Here's another hint to get you through tomorrow, schlongmeier: if a couple of years go by and you haven't heard from us, you can pretty much stop daydreaming about what it would be like to have the office next to the men's room in our building. You really don't need a piece of letterhead to tell you that. How does that soften the blow anyway? Do you really want me to tell you that you could be Edward Fucking Gibbon reincarnated and it wouldn’t matter because the dissertation topic you chose is so fucking lame that I couldn’t get through the first paragraph of your job letter without choking on my bagel? Or do you really want to know that your writing sample sucked worse than Greg the Grade-Grubber’s undergraduate thesis, and I don't give a fuck that it got accepted at the southern states quarterly newsletter for retarded librarians, and that at this point I'm mostly curious to know exactly what kind of heroin your dissertation committee was mainlining before your defense? Or do you really want to know exactly how you wet your pants in the interview room and how big the stain was?

If you stop and think about it for a minute, you probably already know, so hearing it from me on letterhead would just serve to further humiliate you. Or would it help to know that you seemed pretty competent, but there was this other person who was just a little more competent, or whose research we liked just a little better, or who filled a bigger hole in the department than the one you would have filled, or who had a book out and another in press, and that I actually think you will get a job sooner or later? Maybe it would, but you would just reject that as bullshit boilerplate, so why should I fucking bother? You either don’t want to know, or you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Hey man, the job market sucks. I tell every under-flake who comes into my office wanting to become a grad-flake that they are in for seven or eight years of poverty and humiliation in grad school, plus another two or three post-doc years of job searching before they will be able to dream of a regular paycheck that might cover their expenses; that they will likely fail at some stage; and that their grad school won't give crap, because by grading papers and running sections/labs they will have fulfilled their function as the academic equivalents of the Guatemalan dishwasher over at Wendy's.

If no one told you all that, well shame on them. If you didn’t figure it out on your own by the end of your first year of grad school, then you are a fucking sub-moron or you weren’t paying attention while Big-Name-U was reaming you without even offering you a courtesy reach-around. The truth is that you all knew what you were getting into, but you just figured you would be the one to beat the odds. Now the odds are giving you the beat-down of a lifetime, so you are blaming me for the fact that you spent most of a decade in deep denial about the viability of your shitty dissertation about the cultural semiotics of Joe Namath, and are now entering the phase of deep denial about the fact that you got a pity-pass from your heroin-addled dissertation committee, none of whom had the heart to give you a little reality-check. Perhaps it is a testament to the bitterness of the readership of RYS that one of the whiners in the discussion section of the wiki posted a link to it as an illustration of what a shitty profession this is and what assholes we, the people with jobs are.

Then there’s this guy who decided to put his wiki-generated disillusionment to work in a righteously indignant blog. I was with him right up until the point when he pulled the “white men can’t get academic jobs anymore” line out of his pants and started spraying the walls, just like my Camaro-driving cousin does to his trailer after a couple of six packs of Busch lite. But that’s another story. He also lost me when he petered out after five pathetic days and four posts. Five days? That’s all you’ve got bitch? If that’s all the concentrated rage and indignation you could muster after eight years of getting bent over the desk, then I can pretty much tell you why you ain’t getting a job this year ... or ever. You lack stamina son. If you don’t believe me, ask your girlfriend, if you have one after eight years in grad school. Or did you stop posting your rage because you got called for an interview at Southern Ozarks Mining College (school motto: where students go for reading knowledge), and now the sun is shining on your ass again? Either way, you suck donkey ass and so does the job wiki.

Bite me,