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Developing thicker skin in academia and in blogging July 30, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.

The whole blogging thing has brought me lots of joys. I have made tonnes of great friends, I’ve been able to raise money for cancer research, I have been able to provide some people with some free swag and opportunities that they wouldn’t have accessed were I not a blogger. I am even now the Organizer of the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup, with sword and all. The most rewarding part is really knowing that my blog can in some small way effect positive change.

Sadly and rather regrettably, very recently blogging has brought me some pain too. A nasty comment got me so worked up that I had to let it out on Twitter. Luckily, my friends were of the opinion that I should let it go. I concur.

Let me explain. I see blogging using the same philosophy I have of academic research: you got to develop a thick skin. I know that, every so often, I am going to get all sorts of nasty comments, aggressive behavior from other bloggers and readers alike.

Same thing has happened to me with academia: sometimes, a peer-reviewer will say that my paper is complete and absolute garbage. Sometimes, a fellow researcher will say that my work is completely irrelevant.

The anonymous nature of commenting on blogs (in social media) and of double-blind peer-reviews (in academia) allows for inner people’s frustrations to come out frequently (and often, hurting the recipient of the negative comment). But the truth is, if I see it from the perspective that academics are also just humans (and thus, admitting that bloggers are again just humans) then it’s easier to admit that not everybody is bound to like me. Actually, LOTS of people are bound to NOT like me (although my rate of rejected, peer-reviewed papers is VERY low, if I may say so myself).

But it’s up to ME AND ONLY ME to rise above. I can’t and I won’t let anyone who is nasty to me win. Trust me, I am much better than that.



1. Matt - July 30, 2008

Yup, that’s the way to look at it. You’re never going to make everyone in the world like you. And frankly, given how friendly and positive you are, anyone who doesn’t like you is an idiot anyway. Their loss. πŸ™‚

2. Maktaaq - July 30, 2008

I agree with Matt.

I don’t know what the comment was, but some people are ridiculous, just because they can and because they are hiding behind their anonymity. I think you’re one of the most incredibly nicest people I have met in quite a long time.

3. Tania - July 31, 2008

Great post, Raul!

4. Kulpreet Singh - July 31, 2008

This is a great post and a great attitude Raul. According to teachings of the Sikh Guru (and a general concept in almost all faiths), both praise and slander can be dangerous and we should rise above being influenced by them. If someone gives you genuine praise with positive intention, thanking God and recognizing the praise-giver is noble. If someone gives you overzealous and unwarranted praise, still we should remain humble and stay away from egotistical thoughts. On the flip side, if someone gives you justified criticism, we should take it as a chance for self-improvement. And if someone slanders you even in the meanest way, we should recognize they are building bad karma for themselves and instead pray for them to be a more caring person. These are not my thoughts – I think they are generally central to many spiritual practices and I really think they are helpful, especially when you are in the public eye and often have to face the public’s opinion on your work, actions, etc.

5. gusgreeper - July 31, 2008

im glad you left it alone, im proud of you for that it is never easy. there are not many people i will offer to get into drama shit with anymore. πŸ™‚ in fact the last time i found someone bashing me in someone elses comments for the first time i told no one but adam. im telling you now but im not telling you where it is and what it is about other than me πŸ˜›

6. Raul - August 2, 2008

Thanks everyone for the kind words and the support. It’s hard to stay balanced when so much turmoil is around but it’s also nice to know I have many friends who have my back πŸ™‚

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