Inside Higher Education ran an advice post for newly hired academics in the StratEDgy blog section. They then posted the high points on the front page last week. Most advice was just fine, ranging from get tenure quickly, before they take that away to focus on the teaching and find ways to enjoy it. Then there was this gem:
Avoid cynicism by recognizing early that academe is just as fraught with petty squabbles, mean-spirited colleagues, and irrational rules as any other area of endeavor – but no more so than any other.
As far as I can take it, this advice is that one avoids cynicism by being a cynic. That’s simply not how you avoid being a cynic. I suppose the more charitable reading is that one can avoid the disappointment of realizing the truth of the cynical worldview (especially in the vaunted halls of academe) if one is antecedently cynical. But that’s a different thing, and, by the way, not very effective — expecting others to be small-minded and mean doesn’t decrease decrease disappointment when they invariably are so.