Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Lost Art of Live Journal

I had this exact t-shirt, and I wore it shamelessly.
I’m one of those people who used to have a Live Journal. It’s where I would publish a lot of crappy poetry and musings about post-college, pre-married life the way most of us pioneer-bloggers did in the world before mainstream social media.

I loved that space. Even though it was public, it still felt secret because the only people who read it (apart from the five other people I knew with Live Journals) were those who stumbled upon it on like the eighth “o” page of an obscure Google search. I didn’t know those people, which was fine. I wasn’t threatened by their anonymity because I was anonymous to them, too. Back then, anonymous didn’t feel as sinister as it does today.

My Live Journal was my message in a bottle. It was me as a young adult declaring myself into the abyss of the interwebs, my small voice echoing off into the distance, almost never being answered. I didn’t write it hoping to make ad revenue. I didn’t write it to make a living. I wrote it to document that I was living.

Before long though, things started getting crowded in the world of online journaling. Soon, everyone had a blog. Then companies had blogs. Then blogs turned into online magazines. Blogging became the new journalism, with sponsors and advertisers. Some people quit their “real” jobs and have made very lucrative careers by just blogging. The blog market became competitive and noisy and saturated.

A little about me—I can be competitive. I love a challenge if the goal is something that matters to me. I’m incredibly competitive if my opponent is myself. Beating my own personal best at something is my favorite kind of victory. I’m also no-holds-barred at sports and board games, much to the dismay of my young children with whom I never hold back. However, I am not cutthroat about anything else. I am missing whatever gene salespeople have; I am a complete failure at self-promotion (Anyone want to buy my book? I think it’s kind of good. No? Okay, bye.). I feel incredibly ingenuine hyping up the things I do.

All this to say, I’m a little lost in the new blogosphere. Much of what I used to write about can now be reduced to Facebook status updates. Though incredibly less satisfying to write, a sentence or two about daily happenings are much faster to write than a wordy blog-post. Plus, somehow the Internet got both bigger and less private in the past ten years. Sharing my personal thoughts and stories somehow feels more self-indulgent and reckless than it used to.

Also, I feel a certain responsibility not to contribute to the noise. It’s so loud, isn’t it? Twitter and Facebook and viral and fake news and opinions and comment sections… Ugh. They are time sucking life stealers. I am no more immune to them than anyone else, for sure, and I just don’t want to add to the distraction.

But I still want to write. I have always wanted to, and I don’t think that part of me will extinguish anytime soon. I’ve never found the point of writing without (at least the potential of) an audience, so here I am again. Just me and my non-revenue producing, non-commercial, non-competing little space on the Internet, screaming into the crowded abyss, unable to hear it echo.

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