At the end of a day of academic work, you may not want to talk to anybody else, and giving yourself that option is a form of self-care. But that kind of self-care doesn’t help you to play well with others, so it becomes a vexed choice - be a good academic, or a good wife and mother.
Outside the academy, I’m sure the perception remains that academics sit in leather armchairs, gazing out the gilded windows of our ivory towers, thinking all day. That has not been my experience, nor that of anyone I know. My colleagues and peers have, however, experienced levels of anxiety and depression that are six times higher than experienced in the general population. They report higher levels of workaholism, the kind that has a negative and unwanted effect on relationships with loved ones. The picture is often even bleaker for women, people of colour, and other non-White, non-middle-class, non-males. So whether you think academics are ‘delicate woeful souls’ or not, it’s difficult to deny that there is a real problem to be tackled here.
Although I’ve often been heard to sigh and groan that “technology hates me”, just like any other self-respecting anthropologist, in this post I want to consider just what we might be missing out on if we choose to totally avoid extending our minds into cyber-infinity and beyond.