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Blue Monday a bad example of scholarly contribution

by Shari Graydon

Is it a measure of the fact that I’ve been a largely self-employed freelancer for most of my career that I’d never heard of so-called Blue Monday until today? This morning — before having read the Lifestyle section of the Globe and Mail, which featured a column by Sarah Hampson exploring the day’s questionable origins, I blogged about scholars’ reluctance to be seen as “media sluts”, “cheapening” themselves by providing commentary for news stories. In fact, a big focus of Informed Opinions is encouraging women scholars in particular to see the value — to themselves and to society as a whole — of contributing their analysis and context in precisely this way.

But the PR machinations behind Blue Monday — British travel company pays part-time lecturer to lend his name and academic credibility to the notion that the third Monday in January is quantifiably the most depressing day of the year (and only to be remedied by booking a holiday) — are an object lesson in what Informed Opinions is NOT about: it’s not about facilitating the exploitation of intellectual capital by corporate enterprises.

(Having spent three years in my mid-twenties working for a large PR agency that performed media relations for many big pharmaceutical companies, I know all about that. All I can say is I’m sorry, and I’ve tried to make up for it since.)

No: there’s a difference between using one’s education and research to help explain and illuminate complex issues and, well, prostituting oneself for financial gain. I’m just saying.

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