Remember journals? Hand written on paper-bound books–sometimes with silly little locks on them to keep our parents’ and siblings’ prying eyes out? After I wrote my last post (mostly stream-of-consciousness thought, mind you), I walked home and snapped a photo of a spring flower coming up from a lawn. In that moment, I remembered that as a geeky and introverted child, I wrote in my diary about the crocuses coming up when I observed that spring was near. (I also wrote in it that my sister was perfect. Insert cringe emoticon here.) I wrote about silly girl things for myself, to sort my expanding view of the world.
Suddenly, I connected that memory with the thought that the purest form of sincere writing is actually gone. Does anyone journal anymore? On paper, in private, without any interest or fear of having their words read by another someday. Blogs, tweets and public posts replace that innermost random thinking we used to scribble furiously on pages we’d tuck away under our mattresses. At least, I did.
Technology has put our thoughts under microscopes and spotlights alike. It’s good because we can share and selectively find like-minded audiences. And somehow in doing so, we’re less a lone. It’s bad because we have editing mechanisms (both real buttons and plain self-consciousness) we use to ensure that our eternally searchable and discoverable writing is fit for all eyes–work, family and strangers all the same.
I write online now because I’m accustomed to typing. (And sadly, I don’t own a typewriter.) But also I like the idea of archiving. I like that this space is here to turn off and on whenever I want. I like that I can write under a pseudonym and hide my thoughts the way I used to under my bed. I like making a body of writing in this blog that’s a time- stamped chronology of my perspectives. I like than I’m participating in culture–as it is.
But it isn’t the me I used to be in my journals. The is no dear diary to let out my rawest emotions. I don’t rely on these posts to console myself when I’ve had a bad day or want to be left alone in my room. How striking that a mode of communication changes our relationship to ourselves… There is no care in how I neatly write each line. Or doodle aimless drawings in the margins. Or “seal” each page as if it’s mine, mine, mine. The specialness of it all is gone. Just another nostalgic moment for doing things the old fashioned way… and realizing, those times are gone. Long gone.