My AIM Is True

AOL Instant Messenger is at its end. A bittersweet farewell. To be fair, I haven't used it in at least a decade. But when I did, it was lovely. I used it to augment my office hours, so people could ask me questions without trudging all the way to my office or waiting for an email (or calling? Seriously?).

My AIM handle was "SimonDaPieman," which I still think is kind of clever. I listed it in every syllabus starting in the late 1990s. It was right there as part of my contact info: "AIM: SimonDaPieman."

Or at least it was until a third-year pre-tenure review meeting at an institution I have long since departed. One of my superiors opened my preliminary teaching dossier and glowered. "This is your aim? Your aim is to be Simon the Pieman?"

I tried to explain what it meant, but that professor wasn't there to hear me. Another superior tried to help by framing the criticism more constructively, "what you put in your dossier can't even seem frivolous." It was pathetic.

"I understand." While I continued to connect with students using AIM for a couple more years, I deleted it from my syllabi and it never returned. 

But at least my superiors in that meeting were honest. They had no interest in making connections in any way other than in terms they currently understood, and they made no bones about it. When I think of areas where current higher ed leadership fails, the most cringeworthy example is when academic programs try too hard to get "cray with tha kidz #cray #kidz." 

  • Step 1: wonder why nobody pays attention to what you're saying (maybe the flyers don't have enough colors. Try emailing them!).
  • Step 2: sign up for all the social media you've heard of (we have to be on the Facebooks and Twooters! I hear Instagram is pulling ahead, we need an instagram! How do we Snap?).
  • Step 3: Find someone to post as your "brand." (try to force a hashtag! #hashtag #hash #tag)
  • Step 4: Copy all old style promotions to social media (It's like an email blast but better!)
  • Step 5: ???

But it usually belongs on /r/FellowKids. How do you do?