When we went into lockdown, I had to work full-time and simultaneously take care of my kid until 5 pm every day.
Then, in the last remaining 2 hours before bathtime-bedtime, I did my full-time job, including teaching 3 courses and doing all of my research obligations.
This is why I’m saying that online teaching is easier than in-person teaching. If you can do your full-time job in a couple of hours a day with a kid running around and constantly interrupting, then obviously it’s nothing like a real full-time job.
And please don’t tell me it was shitty teaching. Of course, it was. It was pathetic. I’m forever embarrassed for it. But what was the alternative? What do you think your colleagues with kids are doing right now if their schools haven’t reopened? They are fixing breakfast and trying to figure out how to get the kids to stay quiet for a while why they imitate working full-time.
I really liked being able to spend all that time with my kid, by the way. Klara and I will forever remember the lockdown fondly because of all the fun we had. It was made possible by the technological advances that allow people to imitate working while not really working.
If we didn’t have the technology, we’d all be at work and in school right now without making gigantic assholes out of ourselves and pretending there’s a danger that doesn’t exist. And the longer we keep at it, the harder it will be to go back. We are all collectively digging a huge hole for ourselves, pretending that this isn’t what it is and we aren’t rendering ourselves completely expendable. This life we have right now is easier and it’s seductive. But there will be a price to pay.
Remember all that incessant wailing about academics working 60-hour weeks? That performance didn’t save us from losing a large number of tenure lines. The performance around the imaginary hardship of online work won’t have any effect either. We need to be honest with ourselves and say openly that we embraced it so eagerly because it’s an easier option. And then we need to start walking away from it.