How Social Media Imperils Scholarship

Justin Smith:

The existence of this profile for me, on an ostensibly “professional” social-media platform, suggested a responsibility on my part to maintain it. I imagined uploading a picture of myself smiling confidently, chin resting on my hand like a happy version of “The Thinker,” or like some real-estate agent on his business card — an image of someone who is probably not happy but knows the rules of his trade.

Or perhaps, if I wished to comply more fully with the habitus of Anglophone academic philosophy, I could maintain my profile with a picture of myself kayaking, or on a climbing wall, or hiking the Rockies with a look on my face that says, if only for a fleeting moment, “Boy, do I know how to live.” And if I wished to deviate from those approved pastimes, I might select a photo of myself having a great time with my kids. Except that I do not have kids, and I know nothing of mountain sports.

I wrote to David Chalmers, who directs the site along with David Bourget, and in late March I heard back from him. My machine­-generated profile had been graciously removed.