What do you think about the studyblr community?
I knew one day someone would ask me this
firstly one of the things that really attracted me to starting a studyblr was the idea that trying is cool. all through my schooling making an effort was seen as a bad thing, something to be shunned and mocked. then I came across studyblrs where people seemed enthused by the idea of doing the best they can at school and sharing tips on note-taking and revision techniques and how to get into university and I thought that was good and cool.
where I’ve ended up, several years later, is only following a handful of postgrad students who sit in this friendly and good group on the edge of the studyblr ‘community’. one of the reasons for that is that I came to realise how much artifice is required to be a successful studyblr. I do take time to set up a lot of my shots and I do very selectively ‘curate’ my studying experiences. a couple of years ago I decided to be upfront with that and I have made many mentions in asks and posts to the inevitably artificial and curated nature of my blog. I hope people have found that refreshing rather than off-putting.
I find that a lot of the asks I get are focused around people trying to emulate me as if I have all the answers because I do well in class and I have a nice pencil case. the truth is that I’ve never been good at studying and that I am blessed with an ability to understand things quite readily and then be able to write about them quite well afterward. when people ask I almost always say that what works for me won’t work for other people and that they should just do what comes most easily to them. what worries me is that people see these beautifully written notes or perfectly notated books and it makes them feel inadequate and anxious because that doesn’t work for them. you have to acknowledge that over-organisation and prettifying is a form of procrastination. that’s not to say it is de facto a bad thing, but it’s not exactly helpful.
what I have struggled with is the way in which the ‘studyblr community’, in its scramble to be super helpful has become very prescriptive and unrealistic. if your notes aren’t pretty enough or if you can’t afford the best stationery or if you don’t fit the mold in some other way then it’s unlikely your post will pick up traction or that you’ll get tens of thousands of followers. the ‘studyblr community’ therefore not only mirrors the ableism and classism of wider youth culture but it can also exacerbate and amplify it without meaning to.
all this is to say that even the most well meaning actions, if done uncritically, create an unhealthy environment. what the studyblr community needs is a big dose of self-awareness and internal critique if it is to avoid the traps which it so readily falls into. I could go on here about this being a trait of liberal capitalism but I will save you that.
I have often thought about closing this blog down because I feel like a fraud and someone who is doing exactly that thing which I recognise and dislike. I have kept it going so that I can say things like this and so that there is a critical voice in the community. I have also kept it going because people do genuinely seem to be inspired by my posts and I do get a little kick knowing that my life is #goals to someone out there.
I’d be really interested to see what people think of all this, I have written it off the cuff and it is not intended to be read as an academic critique as much as an answer to the question asked. @ohmyphd @howtophd @nealc25 @post–grad