Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why I Hate Talking Shop with Non-Academics

Actually, I hate talking shop period. I think this is another sign that academia is not for me- I find talking about it so boring. However boring it is talking about it with other academics, it is so much worse talking about it with non-academics who really don't understand the weirdness of academia or Ph.D. programs. Let me count the reasons why.

  1. They just don't understand. Anything. They ask you innocuous questions that raise your blood pressure like "When are you going to be finished?" and "Are you finally graduating this year?"
  2. They offer the DUMBEST ideas for your dissertation. Here is a tip for all of you who have never gotten to the point where you had to write a dissertation- if you came with an idea from reading The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, watching the local news, or corporate training, it has almost CERTAINLY been done before.
  3. The question "So do you know what you're going to do when you're finished?
  4. You have to try to explain your complicated, esoteric research idea to people who, even if they're smart, don't know the context. I'm not talking about general ideas, like "My dissertation is on 18th century American literature" or "paternalism in the Japan in the 1950s", but very specific details, because they are sure that they can understand the exact details and relationships of the variables.
  5. Worst of all, I don't like talking about academia with non-academics because I find that I get annoyed and snappish. I'm a bad conversation partner on this topic.

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