The first post always seems to be the hardest for me. Yet here I sit with my laptop in the middle of the night looking to get on with it. While academic writing has always been a strength for me, writing in a more informal tone is one that has escaped me over the years, though I used to enjoy it a lot. I am hoping that beginning this blog will have the benefit not only of helping me regain that skill, but also to document this rather unique time in my life: the time of dissertation, mixed with parenting a toddler, step-parenting two teenagers, managing a household, attempting to build a career, dealing with sandwich-generation issues, and attempting to not go completely and utterly insane in the process. No problem!
I do feel like I may have some interesting insights to offer regarding this whole PhD situation, as my situation is anything but traditional (if there is such a thing as a traditional doctoral student?). I am currently working on my PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior (essentially a PhD in counseling) at Capella University, which is a program that is almost entirely online. With my understanding being that only a very small percentage of the population have their PhDs, my guess would be that those who’ve received this degree through an online format are even teeny tinier. The other thing that may make my educational journey a bit different than most is that, though most of my colleagues are writing their dissertations on things such as services for autistic children, care-giving for individuals with Alzheimer’s, or narcissism in teenagers (all of which are TOTALLY valid things to study, and are all dissertations I look forward to reading), my dissertation is going to be on fangirling. Yes, fangirling. My passion within the field has always been the relationship between psychology and technology. I am forever fascinated by how the Internet has changed the way we form and maintain relationships, the way we communicate, and the way we spend both our professional and our leisure time. I fall into the generation that remembers life before the Internet, but was young enough to enthusiastically embrace it when it became readily available. Forget experimenting with marijuana and lesbian relationships in college – I truly discovered the Internet in my freshman year of college. I was experimenting with chat rooms and list-servs! I have therefore always been intrigued and passionate about the online world, including communities and relationships formed there. In my dissertation, I plan to bridge the gap between fangirling, the Internet, and mental health, which hasn’t been done before. I want to know if fangirling, and specifically fangirling online, is good for you. And I can’t wait to get started finding out!
I have a host of ideas as to different topics for entries going forward. Even at this early stage in the dissertation process (I’m waiting for results on comps as we speak, and will formally begin dissertation in July, 2015 *knock wood*), I’ve had some interesting experiences with my topic. Doing research that is on a non-traditional topic brings with it is own set of challenges, as does conducting research that involves online components, as the research world is still trying to figure out how to handle the Internet in terms of ethics (despite me being in school online… ah, the irony). I look forward to sitting down and going into detail on some of these topics, as I believe they may be of help to others getting ready or currently going through similar avenues as I am.
Ultimately, what I’d love to get from this blog is conversation. If I write something you think is cool, please drop me a line and say so. If you disagree with something I said, or want to discuss things, same goes. The Internet is this magical place where having access to really smart and interesting people from all over the world is right at your finger tips. I love meeting new people and sharing ideas. I’m also well aware of the fact that while I have some decent ideas, I have loads of room to grow. Collaborating and discussing things with others I find to be all kinds of awesome, so please feel free to reach out! I look forward to getting my fangirl and my scholar on, all here in one centralized place. 😉