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Thinking out loud on social media platforms

A month or so ago I posted something rather personal on LinkedIn, a social media platform that till then I treated as strictly “business,” meaning no personal details, please-and-thank-you.


Making Friends, on HubSpot

Making Friends, on HubSpot


My post landed on the University of British Columbia (UBC) Alumni page, where UBC Alumnus Harman Bajwa asked fellow alums to join and introduce themselves. And off I went, for half a dozen or so (short) paragraphs. Amidst the success stories posted on the board, as well as war stories generated by the present economy, it seemed ok to write about how lost I’ve been for the past two years:

I graduated from UBC with a BA Hons. (’83) and an MA (’86), both in Art & Architectural History. Subsequently, I went on to earn a PhD (’91) in Art & Architectural History at Harvard.

I have an additional connection to UBC now – more on that in a moment.

After teaching in several New England departments while simultaneously starting a family, I found myself in the peculiar situation of …well, not being able to reconcile myself or my kids to the traditional school system. We started homeschooling, actually, and radically compounded that lifestyle change in 2002 by leaving the US to move to Victoria.

My additional UBC connection is my 15-year-old daughter …, a National Entrance Scholarship winner who is currently in her first year in UBC’s Arts One program. So, while I was the first person in my family in my generation to go to university (or finish high school), it appears my daughter is the youngest person in Arts One. …

At present, I am out of a job (that is, I’m no longer homeschooling my kids, since they’re now both at university) and am looking to reinvent my life. I’m pretty well informed about distance/ distributed learning and gifted issues at the K-12 level; I’m a blogger (since 2003); I’m a seasoned magazine writer (spent ~3 years writing for FOCUS Magazine, a Victoria monthly) on topics relating to urban development, the built environment, social media, and local politics and governance; I have successfully co-led a grassroots political awareness campaign to oppose Victoria City Hall’s plans to borrow $42million to build a new bridge (see JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG); I co-founded a local Victoria-based news & blog aggregator (which could be franchised across Canada – see; and as a volunteer member of the Capital Regional District’s Arts Advisory Council, I help adjudicate Project and Operating Grant applications from arts organizations of regional (Greater Victoria) significance.

… I’m reinventing myself yet again, and am willing to relocate either to Vancouver or even back to the States (I’m a dual US-Canadian citizen). Would love to hear from others who have embarked on similar journeys: how did you do it, what did you do, and where?

Standing in the middle of what feels like a slow-motion molasses maelstrom means being unable to recognize the obvious. Not till I wrote it, did I see it: “At present, I am out of a job (that is, I’m no longer homeschooling my kids, since they’re now both at university) and am looking to reinvent my life.”

Subsequently, I connected with a couple of other alums who are also in transition, although none seem to have been as foolishly reckless as I (or else they’re not saying). It perhaps takes a special kind of craziness to “fail” with a Harvard PhD.

While I don’t plan to make a habit of using (misusing?) LinkedIn for my own true confessions, it made sense, however, to articulate just this once my current sense of creative frustration, even on a site geared to professional interests. Yes, I do need to reinvent myself, and yes, I would leave Victoria willingly to do so. If I can’t tell that to my professional contacts, whom would I tell?

Meanwhile, almost two weeks ago Raul Pacheco wrote a blog post where he questioned the value of LinkedIn for himself, and …well, I wrote this long comment about how useful LinkedIn is for professional purposes. And that’s all true, it is very useful. But I guess I wasn’t entirely accurate if I suggested that the personal never intrudes.

PS: I’m still working on that reinvention thing. It’s a tough nut to crack.

(The above illustration, Making Friends in Social Media, courtesy of HubSpot.)


  1. I think you are slowly finding your voice again. Transition is extremely hard. Do some radical things that make people smile while figuring out what to do next (only plan I got right now!)

    Comment by shanac — March 1, 2010 #

  2. Thanks, Shana. I got beat up pretty bad by Victoria, that’s for sure (the derailed /unappreciated community involvement, the politics, the total psycho-nutcases I’ve had to deal with in this stupid city). Not since I was a teenager have I felt so worthless and unappreciated.

    Political engagement was the coup de grace for me: it brought to light just how psychotic people can be here. There’s one lunatic who started spreading stories about me, saying that I was slandering her to her employers, when in reality I don’t even know where she works (and I sure wasn’t “slandering” her). I’m not a great social animal, and find it very difficult to waste my energies fighting this sort of BS off.

    People are very strange in lots of little ways, too. Much of the strangeness comes from their huge sense of entitlement, which is weirdly crooked, and is based in large part on this crazy notion that, since we live in the best place on earth, we’re entitled to act with an attitude of entitlement – even though we have done nothing to earn it, for what can you do to earn the beauty of nature, which is our only saving grace? Yet the entitlement attitude persists. For example, at the downtown YMCA where I work out, women steal from other women in the membership-plus changing rooms. These are members who pay a premium for a “plus” membership, yet they steal from other “plus” members. It’s the sort of behavior locals might associate with “the big city,” except we’re not the big city. We just think we can get away with shit.

    Well, that’s the side I got to see in Victoria. I should have known – this is the only city / place I’ve ever lived in where I received vicious anonymous Nazi hate mail mailed to my house. Not just once, but two years in a row. (This happened back in 2003 and again in 2004.) And while the police never found out who did it, they did determine it was a local sender.

    Yep. Victoria. There’s a skewed sense of entitlement here, which runs right into the politics, too. It lets locals fire off Nazi hate mail and lets psychos try to post vicious comments on my blog (I’ve warded off a few of those, too – deleted/ banned before they made it past moderation). Because it’s a relatively small city, that sort of thing can wear you down: at the end of the day, you don’t know if it isn’t literally the guy next to you doing this shit.

    Comment by Yule — March 1, 2010 #

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