In this series I am discussing the dangers of blogging as a student if you are hoping to (1) become a doctoral student and/or (2) find employment in academia. Now, if you are a M.Div student who wants to be a pastor there are risks and rewards to blogging, but I’m not addressing that matter directly. Nor do I aim to make broad claims about all students in all fields. I have a very precise audience in mind. I write for those who want to teach someday or be researchers in the fields of biblical, religious, or theological studies. I presume that if there is someone out there who dreams of being an administrator at a seminary or divinity school you might find some value in this discussion as well.
If you are new to this series you may want to read my Introduction and my #1 reason: ruining your public reputation. This second reason to avoid blogging is a subcategory of #1. While having one’s public reputation semi-ruined because people think you a jerk on your blog is a bad thing when the rubber hits the road the people you want to avoid offending the most are people who control your future. Those are the people on the admissions committee of the program to which you’ve applied. Those are the faculty who supervise doctoral students. Those are the deans who read over the dozens of job applications that come across their desk. If someone going by the name “Sneaky Jimmy” spends all his time trolling blogs you may not want to offend that person because you want to be nice. If you do offend them, well, they go by the name “Sneaky Jimmy” and they troll blogs. * On the other hand, if you apply to do your doctoral work at a prestigious research university you don’t want to have survived the initial purging of applications only to have someone Google your name, see that one time you said something you no longer believe, but forgot you wrote, and decide your too big a “risk” to admit to their program. In other words my point is this: you’ve done too much hard work to be derailed by something as small as someone misunderstanding what you wrote on your blog in 2010! If your application is going to be rejected let it be on merit, not misunderstanding, not on something you blogged.
Earlier this year I discussed this topic a couple times on this blog. While I did write on “The Pros of Blogging as a Student” I also wrote on “The Cons of Blogging as a Student” and the second post received more opinionated interaction. Someone may read this post and think that I am exaggerating matters, but that isn’t true. My later post titled “A Student? A Pre-Tenure Educator? Don’t Blog.” is something you ought to read, especially the comments and the blog post written by Robert Holmstedt to which I linked. There are examples of people whose blogs have made their life as a student far harder than it ought to have been.
There is no way I can reproduce all that was discussed there, so I chose to point the interested reader in that direction for now. In my next post I will address something that is a great temptation for students who have biblio- or theo- blogs: the temptation to blog about subjects not related to your field of study.
* I don’t know of anyone who actually goes by the name “Sneaky Jimmy” while trolling blogs. It’s a hypothetical example.